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William A. Rossi Collection

 Record Group
Identifier: WAR

Scope and Contents

As part of his estate William Rossi left a collection of books, papers, artifacts and other memorabilia related to his work as a podiatrist and in the shoe industry to the Brockton Shoe Museum. In November 2004, as part of the Museum’s partnership with Stonehill College, the collection was moved in its entirety from Mr. Rossi’s home in Marshfield, Massachusetts to the college’s archives located in the Martin Institute. Over the next two years the collection was cleaned, sorted and processed by archives staff and student interns.

The collection measures ninety-six cubic feet and is divided into thirteen series. As much as possible the collection is organized using Mr. Rossi’s filing system. Names of each series are the creation of the College Archives staff. Series include correspondence, consulting files, manuscripts, lecture notes, appearances, patents, reports, audio visual, research files, subject files, publications, artifacts and materials. With the exception of artifacts, all series are processed at the folder level and series descriptions and folder lists are included as part of this finding aid. Artifacts have been individually catalogued and a separate finding created which includes a brief description and photograph of each artifact. Books written by Mr. Rossi and those included in his library are not included as part of this finding aid. The collection is open to all researchers and available for research during the normal business hours of the Stonehill College Archives and Special Collections Department.

Dates

  • 1910-1980

Biographical Note:

Considered by many to be an expert on the shoe industry Dr. William A. Rossi, spent his life devoted to shoes, their design, manufacture, selling and fit. Born on December 10, 1910, Rossi was a lifelong Massachusetts resident who was introduced to the shoe industry at an early age by his father, a custom shoemaker who expanded into the retail shoe business. By the age of ten, Rossi was working in his father’s store fitting shoes. At the age of seventeen he became a graduate of the Dr. Scholl’s School of Practipedics, a correspondence course that dealt with foot ills and the application of commercial foot aids. Soon after completing the course he entered the Middlesex College of Podiatry.

Graduating at the age of twenty, he had to wait a full year before he was eligible to be licensed as a podiatrist and could begin practicing. Yet after only six years in the field building his practice, Rossi abruptly quit. Citing boredom and predictability of treating “foot-ills”, Rossi turned to free-lance writing. Writing both fiction and non-fiction, his work ranged from articles on science, medicine, industry and business to detective, mystery and science fiction stories.

In the late 1930s he began to be recognized for his writing and research related to the shoe industry. In 1937, he published his first book “The Correct Shoe Manual” which focused on corrective footwear. During this time he also conducted research that allowed him to devise an original and unique scientific system of foot measurement for application to lasts and shoes. Called Podometrics, the project received wide attention and in 1941, Rossi traveled to Washington DC to supervise a US government project based on his Podometrics System. The project however was shelved after only few months due the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the US entrance into World War II. In February 1946 Rossi enlisted in the US Navy and served until the end of the war.

After being honorably discharged Rossi returned to writing but with a focus on the shoe industry. He first joined the editorial staff of Leather and Shoes Magazine and within three years was promoted to editor and assistant publisher. In 1955, he took the job of as editor at Boot and Shoe Recorder where he remained for twenty years.

Yet it was Rossi’s research and writing about the shoe industry that made him famous, at least in the shoe world. He consulted for various companies, serving as a marketing expert for both Stride Rite and Walk Over. He wrote seven books and published more than 2000 articles in footwear publications and newspapers. His most well-known book The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe was published in 1976. Considered an expert on the shoe industry he was often interviewed by the media.

Rossi also traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and other countries attending conventions and trade shows, conducting research and addressing groups including shoe manufacturers, tanners, shoe retailers, fashion organizations, allied trades groups, foot doctors, etc.

But for all his research into the shoe industry Rossi strongly believed shoes caused many foot ills and people would be better off without them. He continued to write and research until his death on June 14, 2003. He left behind a wife of sixty years, three children, three grandchildren and an important legacy as a footwear scholar.

Extent

96 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials

English

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series:

  1. 1, Correspondence
  2. 2, Consulting Files
  3. 3, Manuscripts
  4. 4, Lecture Notes
  5. 5, Appearances
  6. 6, Patents
  7. 7, Reports
  8. 8, Audio Visual
  9. 9, Research Files
  10. 10, Subject Files
  11. 11, Publications
  12. 12, Artifacts
  13. 13, Materials
Title
William A. Rossi Collection
Status
Completed
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Stonehill Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Stonehill College Archives, 320 Washington St
Easton MA 02357 United States