Wooden Shoes: The Netherlands--Demographics

Figure 1.--This is a commercial post card, but we believe it depicts an actual scene in the rural Netherlands. The photograph is not dated, but looks like the era before World War I, probably about 1910. The caption read, "N(oord) Brabantsch Dorpsleven. N. Brabantshe Kinderen." The language on the card is Dutch, although the spelling is old-fashioned. New spelling laws were implemented in 1934. Words like "mensch" or "Brabantsch" changed to "mens" and "Brabants". That translates as "N(orth) Brabant village life. N(orth) Brabant children." These children lived in the Dutch province of North Brabant. The Belgians have a province with the same name, Brabant, which actually is South Brabant. We believe that before World War I, clogs were still quite common in rural areas. They were working footwear. They do not mean that the people wearing them did not also have leather shoes. Notice the pinafores the children are wearing.

While our information on the 19th century is limited, a variety of sources suggest that in the 20th century, especially after World War I, that clogs became a rural form of footwear. This was not entirely a measure of poverty, although that was a factor. In the boggy Dutch ground, leather shoes rapidly deteriorated. Clogs proved much more practical, especially in the era before rubber Wellington boots were widely available. Clogs held up much better than leather shoes. Both adults and children wore them. They were, however, worn like work boots. Most rural families had leather shoes when dressing up. We think children commonly wore leather shoes to schooll, especially after World War I, but our information here is still very limited. A Dutch reader tells us, "I lived in a small village as a child. Most people were farmers. Many children wore wooden shoes and some wore them to school. The picture I sent you of my school class was taken in the summer, a time when they did not wear "klompen" often. Also we knew when the photographer would come, so most children were dressed up a little. I myself never wore wooden shoes. We were not farmers. This was also the case of other non-farm families. But there was a neighbor, a sculptor, who always wore them, he was an exception." Another reader writes, "I've asked my Dutch colleague who was born at the end of World War II, in the southern Netherlands near the Belgian border. He is the youngest of about 10 children. He says that he had leather shoes, but for any outdoor work everyone used clogs and it wasn't seen as 'poor'." Another factor is the development of a folk tradition concerning clogs which is most pronounced in rural areas.


Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Dutch wooen shoe page]
[Return to the Main country wooen shoe page]
[Return to the Main Dutch footwear page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web chronological pages:
[Main chronologies page]
[Early 1800s] [Mid-1800s] [The 1880s] [The 1900s] [The 1920s] [The 1940s] [The 1960s] [The 1980s]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
[Skelton suits] [Tunics] [Eton suits] [Kilts] [Sailor suits] [Knicker suits] [Short pants suit] [Long pants suits]

Created: 4:39 PM 12/2/2009
Last updated: 6:34 PM 12/2/2009