Wooden Shoes: The Netherlands--Chronology

Figure 1.--Here we see a scene in the Hague during the 1930s. Notice thechildreb going to school in leatber shoes. The slightly older boy who is apparently out of school and working. Notice he wears wooden shoes and long stockings as well as other socks to cushion his feet. We can't see what is in his cart as it is covered by some sort of tarp. The painted message in the window is a restaurant offering deserts. It could be a snack bar, even a small restaurant. It certainly is not a prime location in The Hague. The words on the window mean "whipped cream and orange sorbets".

We do not have much information on wooden shoes during the 19th century, but think they were quite common, especially in rural areas. Our limited archive showsquite a few Dutch children and adults wearing clogs before World War I, mostly in small village and rural settings. Workers may have also worn clogs to some extent. We are less sure how common wooden shoes were after World War I. We do not think they were very common except for rural areas. We don't see them very commonly in the photographic record, although our Dutch archive is asmittedly limited. Note the image here. The school children in the 1930s are wearing leather shoes, bu the working-class boy who has left school and is working wears clogs (figure 1). He might be from a more rural area on the outskirts of the city. We do note some school portraits with many boys wearing wooden shoes during World War II. It is likely that World War II gave klompen a new lease on life. Leather shoes probably were in very short supply during the War, especailly the later years of the War. One HBC reader tells us that Wooden shoes were common in the Netherlands. until the late 1950s. Nowadays boys in rural areas may still wear them--although it is no longer as common as it once was. One Dutch reader, reports, "They are cheap, durable and comfortable. Another reader tells that it is a mistake to think of wooden shoes as a thing of the past. He writes, "I would like to point out that the farmer in Holland still wears his wooden shoes. Not because of the tourists gaping at him but rather because it is a sensible choice for him in the wet fields of Holland.


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Created: 8:46 PM 11/6/2009
Last updated: 4:05 PM 12/2/2009