A Century of Shoes

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
June 18, 2014

The idea of covering one’s feet has been around for millennia. From early civilizations’ sandals to Mesopotamian foot-wraps, for almost as long as people have been around, some sort of foot-covering has been around. In the last 150 years, however, leaps and bounds have been made in regard to the functionality, fit, and fashion of footwear.

This June 18th, White River Valley Museum will open an exhibit highlighting 100 years of women’s shoes—and Seattle Goodwill is providing a large portion of the exhibit from our Goodwill vintage collection. Longtime Seattle Goodwill volunteer Christine Palmer will be curating the exhibit, appropriately titled: “Sole Obsession: 100 Years of Women’s Shoes from Kitten Heels to Power Pumps.”

With over 100 pairs of shoes on display, you’ll get to see fanciful and dressy footwear dating back to 1910. Some highlights will include a pair of 1950’s Springolaters, handmade hounds-tooth plaid power pumps from 1969, and a pristine pair of 1910 white beaded leather shoes. Women’s footwear has evolved and developed in such a way that allows this exhibit to tell the story of two World Wars, The Great Depression, and countless cultural shifts and fashion movements—and in some instances, even the women who wore the shoes.

Christine has been volunteering with our Vintage Fashion department for years. She has extensive knowledge of historic clothing and valuation. She told White River Valley Museum, “Shoes are a particular passion of mine, as their styles can be powerful, seductive or fanciful, depending on the era, materials and designer.” She worked with Seattle Goodwill, the largest contributor to the exhibit, as well as other vintage fashion collectors to put together the show.

The White River Valley museum is located in Auburn and is about a thirty-five minute drive from downtown Seattle—well worth the journey for such an extensive display! There will be a number of special events geared toward kids as well as adults where you’ll be able to explore the exhibit with Curator Christine Palmer. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the history of women’s shoes!


Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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