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A Shoemaker's Story:
Being Chiefly about French Canadian Immigrants, Enterprising Photographers, Rascal Yankees, and Chinese Cobblers in a Nineteenth-Century Factory Town
Anthony W. Lee

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"A Shoemaker's Story will justifiably find a place in the historiography of photography, immigration, the visual culture of diaspora, and nineteenth-century industrialization. It is a model of research design, engaging narrative prose, and close attention to the specificity of form. . . . Telling a new story in old-fashioned ways, [Lee] has crafted an exquisite piece of scholarship whose very title suggests the traditional detective work essential to both good history and compelling prose."--Elspeth H. Brown, CAA Reviews

"A Shoemaker's Story gives us a history of these events, offering an instructive and vividly written case study into the development of industry and unions, the deskilling of labor, the growth of immigration, and the transformation of identities that characterized post Civil War America."--Mike Rabourn, Historical Journal of Massachusetts


"A Shoemaker's Story is a brilliant book that fully conveys the richness of historical meaning common photographs can bring to light in the hands of a skillful interpreter. Anthony Lee's tale of multiple encounters among Yankee townspeople and factory owners, Chinese and French Canadian migrant laborers, and itinerant and studio photographers in North Adams, Massachusetts, is full of insight into the confluence of United States labor history, ethnic studies, and visual culture. Beautifully written as well, it will be required, desired, and inspired reading for anyone's list."--Laura Wexler, Yale University

"Combining extraordinary archival work, an acute eye for the visual and social logic of photographs, and knowledge of the experiential history of their subjects, Anthony Lee offers a riveting account of the complex uses of nineteenth-century photography. In his readings, the power of images becomes a matter of complex cultural transactions and negotiations, as images themselves are viewed as critical objects for histories of labor, economic life, racial community, and self-representation. This groundbreaking study will influence scholarship for a considerable time to come."--Sara Blair, author of Harlem Crossroads

"This book is a pleasure. Lee weaves together the many stories that run through these extraordinary photographs with exemplary deftness. Having dug deep in the archives, he cogently reconstructs the social dynamics of a forgotten community and a fascinating historical moment. His vivid tale should appeal to scholars and general readers alike."--Robin Kelsey, Harvard University

"Wonderfully innovative and original. Anthony Lee offers a fascinating story that weaves together the history of manufacturing, labor, immigration, and photography. The photograph here becomes a new kind of historical evidence to be mined and untangled, a constellation of competing forces and desires. Beautifully written in remarkably lucid, playful prose. A real pleasure to read."--Shawn Michelle Smith, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"Through his reading of a single photograph taken of Chinese strikebreakers acquired to work in a shoe factory, Lee leads us on a fascinating exploration of the historical circumstances and social relations that gave rise to that photograph. The book shows an exemplary ambition in its methodological attempts to bring together close reading of visual texts, historical analysis, and archival research. An unflaggingly pleasurable read."--Gary Y. Okihiro, Columbia University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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