The shoes in this collection have their origins in the United States.
Of special mention are a pair of Child’s Shoes that were found in Wheaton College’s power house. The shoes are very worn and have become discolored with time but nonetheless are an artifact of the college’s history.
Also present in the collection are a pair of pattens. Pattens were worn as a protective overshoe in muddy or rainy weather conditions. They functioned to elevate the foot from mud or water. Pattens were worn from as early as the 13th century and as late as the early 20th century.
Another noteworthy shoe is the High Button Brown Leather Shoes that belonged to the late Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump (Mrs. Tom Thumb). Lavinia was born in 1841 and by the age of 10 had reached her maximum height of 32 inches. In 1858, she signed on with P.T. Barnum and began her long life of international public exhibition. Miss Warren met General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) through his visits to her exhibition at the American Museum. Their wedding, orchestrated by Barnum, took place on February 10, 1863. The New York Times, then eight pages long, devoted one entire page to the event. President and Mrs. Lincoln held a reception for the newlyweds in Washington, D.C.
A final highlight of the collection are two pairs of Native American Moccasins. One pair is identified as “dancing moccasins” with buckskin fringe tipped with tin bells. When the wearer of these moccasins would move the tin bells would create noise, adding to the effect of the dance. The second pair is associated with the Native American Sioux tribe of the Dakotas. The moccasins are made of deerskin and white and green glass beads.