A Shoemaker's Story

Tuesday 4 October at 18:30

Concordia University, EV-1.605

Anthony W. Lee

Mount Holyoke College

On a June morning in 1870, seventy-five Chinese immigrants stepped off a train in the New England factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts, imported as strikebreakers by the local shoe manufacturer. They threaded their way through a hostile mob and then – remarkably – their new employer lined them up along the south wall of his factory and had them photographed as the mob fell silent. So begins Anthony W. Lee’s fascinating study: A Shoemaker's Story: Being Chiefly about French Canadian Immigrants, Enterprising Photographers, Rascal Yankees, and Chinese Cobblers in a Nineteenth-Century Factory Town. Anthony Lee’s lecture will explore the social forces that brought this now-famous photograph into being, and the events and images it subsequently spawned. This moment corresponds with the rise of photography as a profession and the hopes and experiences of immigrants to the United States trying to find their place in the years of industrialization following the Civil War, amidst often violent debates about race, labour, class, and citizenship.

Anthony W. Lee, Professor of Art, Mount Holyoke College, is an art historian, critic, curator, and photographer. As a critic and scholar, he writes about American photography and modernist painting. As a photographer, he documents ethnic and immigrant communities. His books include Painting on the Left: Diego Rivera, Radical Politics, and San Francisco's Public Murals (1999); and Picturing Chinatown: Art and Orientalism in San Francisco (2001). He is founder and editor of the acclaimed series Defining Moments in American Photography, to which he and Richard Meyer contributed Weegee and Naked City (2008). Dr Lee is the recipient of the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in American Art, given by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art, and the Cultural Studies Book Prize, given by the Association of Asian American Studies.  

Image: John G. Brayton, untitled photograph, c.1880

Of Related Interest

Anthony W. Lee's Mount Holyoke faculty page

Anthony W. Lee's website

Current curatorial project: World Documents