Jan Matzeliger


Have you ever wondered about the history behind those things that protect our feet, Uhm yes shoes. Jan Matzeliger invented a she lasting machine which changed the world by giving people somthing to protect their feet with, making mass production of shoes possible, and making it possible for ordinary citizens to purchase shoes.

Jan Matzeliger was born in Paramaribo [Dutch Guiana] South Africa on September 15, 1852. His father was a Dutch engineer who married a native Black Surinamese woman. At the age of ten, Jan worked in the machine shops watched over by his father, where his talents with working with machinery, where first noticed.Growing up for Jan was tuff and children of his mixed race were very race during the time of slavery. Although Jan Ernest Matzeliger lived for 37 years he did alot in his life time.

In 1871, at the age of 19, he sailed the world and settled in Lynn Massachusetts 2 years later. To support himself he got a job in a shoe factory. His Co-workers where always giving him a hard time because of his black ancestory so he would try to find ways to prove them wrong. His Co-workers aften bragged about being hand-lasters without there complex skills, shoe making wouldnt be possible. They used to try and put Jan down by saying their job was the best and best paying and also made fun of his color. Hand lasters attached the uper part of a show to the sole because there where no machines to do the job. A skilled hand laster would be able to sow about 50 shoes in a 10 hour work day.

While Jan was living in Lynn, Massachusetts the first chirch of christ took him in as a member and helped teach him english because his native toung was dutch. They where really the only ones who took him in and gave him a chance and looked past his color and came over the language barrier. Although Jan loved going to church between his ten hour work day and finding time to sleep he didnt spend much time at the church

Jan got to thinking about how he could create a machine that could do the job of a hand laster. He knew that he could solve the problem so he got to work right away. He scrounged parts and sometimes even went without food so he could pay for some of the materials. He was very dedicated to his work. It took Jan about five years, but by 1882 he filed the patent .In 1885 the first shoe making model that would atatch the top part of the shoe to the sole was created. Already companys where looking to buy from him. Some bids being as high as 15,000.

He sold his first model for 15,000, and continued to make better models of the shoe making machine and gain profit. Jans shoe making machine changed the world in many ways. One was giving people somthing to protect their feet with. Because shoes where not that affordable before the machine was invented because they where so hard to make they where quite expensive. Soon people where able to afford the shoes and wear them on their feet. Also some shoes that they could afford where cheap and werent made to last.

It also changed the world because it made mass production of shoes possible. Not only where they able to attatch the top part of the shoe to the sole but no they where able to make mass amounts of shoes in just days. It helped the industrail revlotion with machine making and inspired others to do the same. They where able to turn making 150 pairs of shoes a day to 700.

Another way it changed to world was making shoes affordable for middle and lower class people. Shoes where expensive because all shoes where hand made and hand lasters relized that they could charge alot for their services so they did. Before Jan created the machine shoes where expensive and only the rich could really afford them. After the machine was created and mass production was possible shoes where affordable by almost all besides the poor.