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What is this?

Toldaroundshoes is repository for personal stories and oral histories of girls and women.

What’s its purpose?

Toldaroundshoes makes the stories of ordinary women and girls accessible for anyone interested in reading about or writing women’s history.

Why women and girls?

When Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote “well-behaved women seldom
make history,” she meant that ordinary women leave few textual records unless caught in the legal system. This website is designed to collect stories of so-called ordinary women whose experiences would otherwise largely be lost to history. It stipulates women and girls because material on girls is even more scarce than that on adult women.

Who is a woman or a girl?

Anyone who self identifies as female.

What’s with the shoes?

The website began as a means of tying into a book Renée Sentilles is writing on women’s history as told through shoes, tentatively titled On Her Feet: 150 Years of American Women’s History as Told Through Their Shoes. Sentilles wanted to invite readers to share their own stories.

Also, shoes all us to tell a story from the ground up. Asking an interviewee about memories of a favorite pair of shoes can lead to all kinds of stories.

Each published story/oral history will be accompanied by a picture of shoes that fits the story: a picture from the past with shoes visible, shoes representing the time period (for example, saddle shoes for adolescence in the 1950s), or a pair of the person’s actual shoes.

Oral histories and personal stories do not need to actually mention or be structured around shoes!

Who is behind this website?

This website was initially begun by Renée Sentilles, Professor of History at Case WesternReserve University who specializes in the history of women and girls in the United States. Among other things, she has published two monographs exploring gender and race in women’ s history: American Tomboys, 1850-1915 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018), and Performing Menken: Adah Isaacs Menken and the Birth of American Celebrity (Cambridge
University Press, 2003).

In 2019 Sherri Bolcevic and Halle Bauer became collaborators. Sherri first as a research assistant and then as social media coordinator, and Halle Bauer as the educational coordinator.

How can I participate?

Submit your stories! Give us feedback and tell your friends about the website.

If you are an educator, consider using one of the attached assignments and encourage students to submit their papers after the term ends.

How do I submit?

Follow instructions listed under submission. In a nutshell they are: you must digitally submit the agreement form signed by the subject of your story, the story itself. If possible, we would also love to have a digital image of the person wearing shoes (we will use the photo to zero in on the shoes, cropping out more personal details).

What if my subject does not have shoes from the era we discuss?

That’s fine. We will find an image of shoe to represent the time period you are covering.

Are all stories accepted?

For the most part. Submissions will be curated, which means they may be returned for editing and in rare cases may be rejected.


Stories should be written in English.

Authentic language is important but the editors reserve the right to return the story to edit out what they deem to be excessively crude language.

Who qualifies? Do I need to be a specialist?

No! Although it is helpful if the story or oral history contains some context, you do not need to be a historian or professional writer.

What about sensitive topics?

An authentic compilation of the life stories of girls and women means difficult topics will be included. All stories with sensitive topics (domestic violence, rape, racism, etc) will be tagged with a headline alerting readers so that they do not stumble into something painful to read.

Is there a particular formula?

There are two basic kinds of stories and multiple ways to tell them:

A personal story: This could be your own story (told in first person) or stories of someone else (for example, your grandmother, told in third person).

An oral history: This is a direct transcript of an interview with someone about her life, or a paper that puts that interview within its historical context.

How can I participate?

Ordinary folks: Submit your story! Interview friends and relatives and submit their stories.

Educators: Use the attached sample assignments in your classes. Encourage students to share their work after the term has ended (they must be submitted after all grading is final, so that their grade is
not attached to submission).