Footwear

 

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 top cap over the toe to provide the miners an extra measure of safety.

Socks were made made out of cotton, wool, and other materials that were strong enough to survive the harsh working conditions in mines.

Many of these socks were created in mills in the upper Midwest. 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”.1

  1.  Robinson, Mike; Silverman, Helaine (2015). Encounters with Popular Pasts: Cultural Heritage and Popular Culture. New York: Springer. pp. 109–111. ISBN 978-3-319-13183-2.
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. 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, linens, and wools would have been the most common material with blends also being in use. c.

Published in: on February 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm  Comments Off on 1920s Shirts  
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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. By adding metal rivets to the highly stressed seams.  Proper denims of the 1920s were still high waisted, going up to the navel. At this period in time, many men still wore suspenders to keep their trousers up, so stud buttons were often used to hold them up.. However, many laborers opted to not wear suspenders because they can be restrictive while working and thus the waist belt and belt loops became more common. Most work wear was still button flied, as the zipper didn’t see the height of popularity until the advent of WW2.  They also started to be called blue jeans around the start of the 1950s.

Published in: on February 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments Off on Denim Trousers  
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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.

Published in: on February 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm  Comments Off on Overall Coat  
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Miner’s Double Buckle Boots

 

Since trousers tend to be the first piece of clothing that suffers from day to day wear, workers came up with some pretty inventive ways to keep their clothing in the best of shape as possible.

If one looks closely at these photos of five male employees of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company in Colorado (circa: 1910-1930), some of the miners have ankle boots similar to the M43 US combat boot.

Boots with ankle gaiters were sometimes worn by workers in the early 20th century in order to prevent the trousers from getting caught up in debris, branches, etc.

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This ad from the mid-to late 1920s also shows an example of the double buckle boots from the era.

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm  Comments Off on Miner’s Double Buckle Boots  
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Miner’s Cap

The newest period item to be added to our museum collection. This particular cap was not used in West Virginia, rather in the lead mines of SW Wisconsin. However, this style was in use by most miners. The outer rim is made of a khaki cotton duck while the inside is a flannel.

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 9:26 pm  Comments Off on Miner’s Cap  
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Miners Underground

A photo of miners from the early 20th century. Note the Carbide lamps in function.

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm  Comments Off on Miners Underground  
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Ludlow Miners

This is a picture of striking miners from the American West from 1914. While this is not a part of the history of Blair Mountain, this does provide a good look at how some of the men at Blair might have looked during the battle.

Published in: on June 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm  Comments Off on Ludlow Miners  
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Miner Helmets

Various Helmets dating from the 1900s to 1950s.

Miners’ helmets and caps in the U.S. were initially used more for the utilitarian purpose of having a place to hold a lamp while the miner worked. They were later developed into a safety device to protect the miner.

In the United States, the E.D. Bullard Company was a mining equipment firm in California, created by Edward Dickinson Bullard in 1898, who was in the industrial safety business for 20 years. The company sold protective hats, but they were only made of leather. His son, E.W. Bullard, arrived home from World War I with a steel helmet, which provided him with an idea to improve industrial safety. In 1919 Bullard patented a “Hard-Boiled Hat”, made of steamed canvas, glue and black paint. That same year the U.S. Navy commissioned Bullard to create a shipyard protective cap, which began the widespread use of hard hats. Not long after, Bullard developed an internal suspension that would provide a more effective hat.

Info Provided By: http://miningartifacts.homestead.com/

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm  Comments Off on Miner Helmets  
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Bordie Helmet

The Brodie helmet, called Helmet, steel, Mark I helmet in Britain and the M1917 Helmet in the U.S., was a steel combat helmet designed and patented in 1915 by the Briton John Leopold Brodie. Known in the US as the “tin hat” and “doughboy helmet.”

It was first introduced to the United States Armed Forces when they entered the war late in 1917. The United States government initially purchased some 400,000 helmets from Britain. From January 1918 the U.S. Army began to use helmets manufactured in the U.S. and these helmets were designated M1917. None of the steel helmets were intended to protect against bullets, but aimed at reducing head-wounds from shrapnel.

These sorts of helmets can be found in a number of original photos from the era by the miners and members of Chafin’s militia since many of them were veterans of the First World War.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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