The Woolen Shoes That Made Revolutionary-Era Women Feel Patriotic

Calamanco Footwear Was Sturdy, Egalitarian, and Made in the USA

If you were a wealthy or middle-class woman living in British America around the time of the Revolution, you probably owned a pair of calamanco shoes. Like sneakers or black pumps today, calamancos were the everyday footwear of early American life: practical clothing items that can reveal a great deal about the day-to-day lives—and aspirations—of their owners.

But first, what was calamanco, this special item coveted by women of wealth and women of the middling sort? Calamanco (also spelled callimanco, calamanco, or calamink) is a worsted wool textile finished …