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From “10 Footers” to Factories: Industrial Growth in the Antebellum North
Primary Sources

Theme: An Industrious People: American Economic History
From “10 Footers” to Factories: Industrial Growth in the Antebellum North
July 12, 2005
Scholar:  Andrew Darien, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Salem State College

Primary Sources from Partner Collections |Shoes| Textiles|
Primary Sources from Local Archives and Collections
Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions

Selections and annotations by SALEM in History staff

Primary Sources from Partner Collections

Related to the Shoe Industry


Ropes Shoes

Three pairs of Ropes shoes with length of fabric, ca. 1785. 
Silk brocade and silk satin.
Peabody Essex Museum.

These shoes offer an image of "high style" footware available to fashionable Salemites during the late 18th century.


Hussey & Ropes Receipt from Daniel Peirce, Baltimore, 1 April 1786. Ropes Family Collection. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Balance accounted for Hussey & Ropes sale of shoes and flour in Baltimore by Daniel Peirce. Hussey & Ropes were in business for just a few years, and were merchants of a range of shoes in addition to shoes. Quantities of shoes sold were quite modest, and as these records suggest, so were the profits.

These Ropes family records relate to the people who owned the Ropes Mansion, also in the Peabody Essex Museum Collection.


Hussey & Ropes Receipt from Mihitable Williams, [Salem], 4 May 1786. Ropes Family Collection. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Receipt for balance paid on a pair of "Morroco" [sic] shoes.


Joseph Holman Receipt to Hussey & Ropes, Salem, 8 June 1786. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

The receipt reads:

"Received Salem 8th June 1786 of Hussey & Ropes Twenty Two pair of Womens [?] and Two pair of Callamanco Shoes which I promise to carry with me to Philadelphia & then Dispose of the same, provided I can obtain the Sum of Four pound, Fifteen Shillings. If I cannot obtain the above price I further promise to leave the same, with a shoemaker to be sold on my Account, taking a Receipt for the Same. --Joseph Holman"

Callamanco (or Calamanco) cloth was a woolen material with a glossy surface on one side. 


Hussey & Ropes Receipt from Joseph Holman, Philadelphia, July, 1786. Ropes Family Collection. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Receipt showing a profit of 6.00 pounds for the sale of shoes balanced with costs, the purchase of flour, and a small amount of cash due to Hussey & Ropes.


Joseph Osgood Receipt to Hussey & Ropes, [Salem], 15 July 1786. Ropes Family Collection. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Account of cash borrowed from Hussey & Ropes, and the purchase of buttons and shoes. Amount paid by cash.


Shoe Pegged by Samuel Preston's Machine

First Shoe Pegged by Samuel Preston’s machine, 1833.
Peabody Essex Museum.

This is an example of a man’s “brogan” shoe, a sturdy variety used for work.  The machine used to make it was created by Danvers manufacturer Samuel Preston, who patented his pegging machine.  In this process, the machine fastened together soles and uppers using wooden pegs


Jonas Thissel, Journal, 1850s

Jonas Thissell, Journal, Beverly, August 1851 - March 1854. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum. Transcription by Abaigeal Duda.

During the course of this journal, Jonas Thissell of Beverly worked on fishing boats from about April through November and crafted shoes during the remainder of the year. This record includes logbook and journal entries while sailing, and accounts while on shore. Thissell notes his 21st birthday on 17 July 1852. He also records the number of fish caught by his and other vessels, and his financial share of the year's catch. On land, he documents wages paid to women for stitching the uppers for shoes, rent paid for his housing and his shop space, and daily costs such as food, transportation, and clothing.


M.S. Andrieu.
Interior View of I.C. Pray’s Stitching Shop, No. 232 Derby Street, Salem, ca. 1863.
Peabody Essex Museum.

“The first widespread technological revolution in the shoe industry came with the invention of the sewing machine.  Beginning in the 1850s, the use of the sewing machine in shoe manufacturing allowed local businesses to create women’s slippers to compete with French imports then the rage among well-shod consumers.  The first sewing machine was installed in a Lynn factory in 1852 and was used to stitch shoe uppers.” 

Quoted in Richter, Paula Bradstreet, “Following the Footprints of the Past: The Shoe Collection of the Essex Institute.”  Essex Institute Historical Collections (April 1991): 123-4.


Lye-Tapley Shoe Shop, c. 1830

Prior to the industrial revolution, shoes were produced by master craftsmen who worked in small shops, called “10-footers,” which were attached or adjacent to their homes.

Shoe Shop Interior and Exterior Views.
In Melder, Keith. Life and Times in Shoes City: The Shoe Workers of Lynn: 14 September 1979 - 27 January 1980
. Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1979: 10-13.

M. Newhall Shoe Shop Interior. This genre scene of a shoe shop interior depicts three men at work with a range of tools involved in the shoe trade.

"A typical small shoe shop before the period of mechanization, (n.d.)" From Sketches of Lynn. Photo of a "10-footer" with the sign, "Alphonso Visco / First Class Shoemaker" and "Show Repairing" visible on the building. These small shops (which did not necessarily measure 10 x 10 feet) provided an opportunity for small-scale craftsmen to make and market their wares.

"Shoe Shop formerly owned by George Parrott, one of Lynn's last handicraft shoe-makers, (n.d.) " This is a print image of small shop. The artist's choice to depict the structure's shingles and wood in a slightly irregular, picturesque manner suggests a somewhat nostalgic point of view of the subject at the time the work was rendered.


Primary Sources from Partner Collections

Related to the Textile Industry


Annual Report of the Engineer to the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company, Salem, (Mass.). Salem, MA: Tri-Weekly Gazette Press, 1848.

The report indicates that the mill has been completed during the January 1847-January 1848 time period, and so this report in part attempts to predict what typical expenditures and revenues the company should expect in the coming years. As a sample, the value of product produced over a period of six months (ending 31 December 1847) was $180,886.15, with total costs at $165,778.36. The profit of $15,107.79 is qualified by the fact that not all of the machinery was in operation by this date, and the price of cotton dropped, causing a loss in retail value. Their projections for net profits for 51 weeks is a $84,800.25 based on market values at the time the report was written. Further commentary reports on the quality of the material produced, types of machinery, and the size of the mill ("the largest in the United States and of novel construction).

Document available in the Phillips Library Collection, Peabody Essex Museum.


Pequot Sheets Advertisement

Pequot Sheets Card Advertisement: “The Rock Finally Won,” ca. 1911. Naumkeag Steam Cotton Co. Pequot Sheets & Sheeting (Miscellany).  Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

Quoted from the advertising card:

“The ROCK finally WON – but it took 11 YEARS.  A Missionary in India wrote: ‘Eleven years ago I brought a supply of Pequot sheets to India because I knew they would wear well.  My ‘dhobi,’ or washer-man, stands in the river and slaps the sheets on a stone slab.  In spite of the ‘dhobi’ some of those Pequot sheets are still in use!’”

Collection of Letters from Emeline Larcom to Lois Larcom (beginning 1833).  Larcom Family Papers.  Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum.

These are letters written from Emeline to her mother, Lois Larcom.  The first letter is from 1833, while she is on her way to Boston.  She then stayed in Beverly with some relatives, and then continued on to Lowell.  The bulk of letters were written while Emeline worked at the textile mills. Emeline Larcom is the sister of Lucy Larcom, who is well-known for her poems and other literary works, such as “Among Lowell Mill-Girls: A Reminiscence,” Atlantic Monthly (November 1881).


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Primary Sources from Local Archives and Collections


“Report of the Committee Appointed to Enquire into the Practicability and Expediency of Establishing Manufactures in Salem" (1826) In Salem City Documents 1846 -1858. Salem, MA: The Register Press, 1840.

[Also available at the Phillips Library]

Seventy leading men of Salem met to consider the viability of creating a water-powered "cotton and other manufactures" mill like those in Lowell. Some of their considerations include similar efforts in Boston,

In proposing possible locations for the mill in Salem, the report describes existing properties and the possible damage to land or business along the North River, the most likely site for the project. They also consider possible objections to their proposed mill, which include: the suitability of salt water as a power source, regulations for employees in a city much larger than typical manufacturing villages and the possible hesitancy of people to work in manufacturing jobs, and the lack of success in the Boston and Roxbury Mill Dams. The report also cites the following advantages: the larger quantity of water expected to power the mill that already is in the hands of The Salem Mill Dam Corporation that is seeking to build the mill, the close proximity of the mill to the center of Salem, and the ease of access for boat and barges. Finally, the report comments on the benefits of a mill for the city: younger generations would remain at home because work is available, property values will rise, and Salem will maintain its success among other sea ports.

The "Act of Incorporation for The Salem Mill Dam Corporation" and an extract from the "Estimates of the Engineer" are also attached to the main report.


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Additional Primary Sources Used in Content and Follow-up Sessions - Maps

Note: These published maps are available in the Salem State College Archives



Map of the City of Lynn, MA, c. 1870.

It features a list of major businesses printed in the upper right hand corner of the map.



Map of Salem About 1780. Based on the Researches of Sidney Perley and the Accounts of Col. Benjamin Pickman & Benjamin J.F. Browne with Additional Information Assembled by James Duncan Phillips & Henry Noyes Otis. Drawn by Henry Noyes Otis. James Duncan Phillips, 1937.

Detail: Salem wharves and stage point
Detail: North River and Shallop (Collins) Cove

Many individuals and their occupations are noted on this map, which provides evidence of the locations of diverse occupations in Salem at this time.



Salem 1820.  Plan of the Town of Salem in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  From Actual Surveys made in the years 1796 & 1804 with the Improvements and Alterations since that period as Surveyed by Jonathan P. Saunders.  Boston: Anoin & Smith, 1820.

Detail: Wharves on Derby Street & Stage Point
Detail: North River & Collins Cove



Salem 1874.  Map of the City of Salem, Mass. 1874.

Detail: Wharves on Derby Street & Stage Point
Detail: North River & Collins Cove



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