Walk a Century in My Shoes: Minnesota 1900-2000

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



On the eve of the twenty-first century, many historians grappled with ways of demonstrating the awe-inspiring technological advances of the previous one hundred years – the age of the automobile, the airplane, radio, television, nuclear weapons, computers, and the internet. Annette Atkins chose something more personal to examine: her feet. Or, more accurately, her shoes. How did her shoe collection, she wondered, differ from those of women in Minnesota at the turn of the twentieth century? Beginning with the three pairs of locally made shoes owned by Sarah Christie Stevens in 1900, Atkins follows changes in production, marketing, and sales of shoes. In so doing, she explores the twentieth century’s impact on consumer attitudes and, in turn, reveals a bit about our shifting values and lifestyles.