The October 2015 Night at the Museum featured a talk by Dr. Alicia Kerfoot, “The Era of the ‘Ultra’: Early Twentieth-Century Women’s Footwear in the Knapp Museum Collection.”
In the adapted video format of her presentation, Dr. Kerfoot discusses her extensive research of the shoes in the Emily Knapp Museum collection, many of which were made in the Moore-Shafer Shoe Factory, which operated in Brockport from 1888 through 1929. To start, Dr. Kerfoot examines the artifacts themselves, dating the shoes by design, style and use and then places the quality and reputation of the “Ultra”shoe in a larger context by comparing the many “Ultra” ads with its contemporaries. Additionally, and perhaps most compelling, the talk discusses the potential causes and effects of the Moore-Shafer Shoe Factory’s demise through news stories from the Brockport Republic.
This presentation illuminates a major industry in Brockport’s history and sheds a new perspective on the sliver of land between Park Avenue and Main Street, where the factory once stood.
Dr. Alicia Kerfoot has her PhD in eighteenth century British literature and culture from McMaster University in Canada with an emphasis on fashion and dress, the gothic novel, and women’s writing of the period. Her scholarship in shoe-specific academic publications and presentations include the following titles, among others: “Declining Buckles and Moveable Shoes in Frances Burney’s Cecilia,” “Let firm, well-hammer’d Soles protect thy Feet:’ Footwear and the Permeability of the Street in Gay’s Trivia,” and “Catherine Morland’s ‘Plain Black Shoes’: Practical Femininity and Buried Convents in Northanger Abbey.” She lives in Brockport, NY, where she teaches in the English Department of the College at Brockport and serves as a volunteer at the Emily Knapp Museum & Library of Local History.