Caledonia Homecoming 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 10:00am until Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 4:00pm

Location: Linwood Park, State Hwy 38 and 5 Mile Road, Caledonia, WI (just south of Milwaukee)

This will be a two day event at a historical society in Caledonia, WI. This will be a first time event for us. We will most likely be bringing the museum set-up, once again focusing on the pre-industrial era of coal mining (roughly 1890 to 1940s).

Contact M. Michna – or 262-758-2131 for details and registration

Published in: on February 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm  Comments Off on Caledonia Homecoming 2012  


Footwear is pretty straight forward when it comes to the 1920s. Any sort of leather round toed ankle boot is the norm, black and browns were the most common. Many examples have toe-caps on them. The uppers of the boots were leather. Rubber was used sparingly, mostly seen on the heel. The work boots worn into the coal mines had to be as tough as the demanding conditions. These boots were built with a double layer of leather over the toe to provide the miners an extra measure of safety. The heel pocket, a boot feature designed to provide extra support, was moved to the outside of the boot. This design change eliminated a seam, and provided a smooth and comfortable one-piece surface on the inside of the boot.

Socks were made out of yarn, which means wool. Many socks were created in mills in Wisconsin and in Rockford, Illinois. John Nelson, a Swedish immigrant to the United States, patented the sock-knitting machine in 1869, and began manufacturing work socks in Rockford, Illinois in 1890. Nelson Knitting was an innovator in the mass market work sock field, creating a loom that enabled socks to be manufactured without seams in the heel. These seamless work socks were so popular that the market was soon flooded with imitators, and socks of this type were known under the generic term “Rockfords”.

Published in: on February 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm  Comments Off on Footwear  

1920s Shirts

Shirts came in a variety of shapes and styles by this point in history. The most common type of shirt appears to be a “pullover” design with three or four buttons reaching down to the mid chest; though full placket shirts were starting to come into fashion. Shirts with or without collars are the standard for the working man. Into the 20s men were still wearing detachable collars and cuffs. The detachable collar and cuff were developed to help shirts last a bit longer. Collars and cuffs wear faster and get dirty easier than the body of the shirt and washing was often expensive. So detachable items were created and sold separately. A striped shirt with a matching collar is fine, but a striped shirt with a contrasting white collar is perfect. However, high detachable shirt collars were starting to get out of style by the early 1920s, and most shirts had attached collars, with the neckline lowering through the decade. Collars were generally medium-sized in length and either set close to the tie or flared slightly away from the tie. Cottons and wools would have been the most common material with blends also being in use. Buttons would have been metal, hard rubber, baklite, etc.

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Denim Trousers

By the late 19th century, weavers in America were making twills in the same fashion as the European denim, adapting to use cotton, instead of a cotton/linen blend (often called “jean wool”). The solely cotton material had a reputation for being very strong and not wearing out quickly. Levis Strauss became famous in the late 1840s creating clothing of various materials to the Gold Rush miners. However, these trousers were not the same material as the denim we know today.

In 1873, Levis and Davis created the first true blue jeans as we know them begins. They adding metal rivets to the highly stressed seams.However, jean and denim remained two very different fabrics, and were used for different types of clothing. Denim was used mainly for workers clothes and jean for lighter clothes that did not have such high durability requirements.

What is important to keep in mind, is that the term “blue jeans” was not yet thought up in the 1920s. This would come later in the 1950s and 1960s.

Proper denims of the 1920s were still high waisted, going up to the navel. Most men still wore suspenders to keep their trousers up, so stud buttons were used. Many times, miners opted to not wear suspenders because they can be restictive while working. In place of using a waist belt, there as a sliding adjuster on the rear. That being said, there were many examples with belt loops as well. While the modern zipper was invented in 1913 and improved upon in 1917, it took nearly 30 more years before it became widespread in the United States. Most work wear was still button flied.

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Overall Coat

In the early 1900s there were several different types of work jackets in use. The most common term for them was an overall jacket. Serviceable and accommodating, the Overall Jacket had a turn down collar and had four to five pockets. Many were made from denim and cotton duct, both very sturdy for the rough and tumble life of working in the mines, logging, and other industries.

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