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Shoemaking, Tanning: Beam Workers, Endicott Johnson Plant, Endicott, 1917

Tanning: Beam Workers at Endicott Johnson Plant.
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_A9965
 
Document Description
Beam workers remove fleshings and fine hair by hand from animal hides at the Endicott Johnson Plant in Endicott, New York, 1917.
 
Questions
What are these men doing?
What do you think the tools are for?
What kind of material is this?
Where does it come from?
Why do these men use an incline? What advantages does it give them?
 
Historical Challenges
Create a visual timeline about how shoes have evolved. Research how shoes are made today.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Pretend the Endicott Johnson Factory produced 3,261 shoes in 1908, 3,390 shoes in 1909, 3,176 in 1910, and 3,250 in 1911. Make a graph of the production.
Science: Why is leather a good material for making shoes?
English Language Arts: Create a chart that shows the process of making a shoe. Make an original shoe design and create advertisements for it.
 
Resources
Aswad, Ed and Suzanne Meredith. Endicott Johnson (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing SC, October 2003. ISBN: 0738513067
Lawlor, Laurie. Where Will This Shoe Take You?: A Walk through the History of Footwear. Walker & Company, June 1996. ISBN: 0802784348
Yue, Charlotte. Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures. DIANE Publishing Company, August 2000. ISBN: 0788194658
Vanderbilt, Tom. The Sneaker Book: Anatomy of an Industry and an Icon. New Press, The, July 1998. ISBN: 1565844068
 

Historical Context
In 1882, George F. Johnson arrived in Binghamton with eight cents in his pocket. He went to work at the Lester Brothers Boot Factory. George’s hard work and motivation paid off, and by 1899 he had secured a loan to buy a partnership in the company. The company was renamed after its two new owners, and the boot factory became the Endicott Johnson Company.
    
As a manager, George believed that a contented worker was a productive worker. So he cut back the workday to only eight hours and donated carousels to the town for the children to ride on for free. During the Depression era of the 1920s-1930s, George even provided each schoolchild with a pair of new shoes at Christmas. After George Johnson’s death, the factory closed due to lack of modernization.
 
Essential Question
How does industrialization change a society?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of industrialization on these workers and their working environment.