top of page
The Sole Man, a picture book about Jan Matzeliger's shoe making invention.
The Sole Man

In 1873, at the age of 21, Jan Ernst Matzeliger immigrated to America, having left all that was familiar behind in South America. He arrived with hopes and dreams of a bright future in this new country. Though Jan had no formal training, he was highly skillful with tools and machinery, having worked in his father's mechanic shops. But no one wanted to hire a Black immigrant who didn't speak English. Yet Jan didn't give up. He finally got a job at a shoe factory. As Jan learned the process and craft of shoemaking, he envisioned a new machine, a lasting machine, that would help produce more shoes more efficiently. People scoffed at Jan's idea, telling him it wasn't possible. But he wasn't deterred. Despite many obstacles, after years of planning, drawing, and experimenting, Jan is finally ready to demonstrate his lasting machine. And his invention will change the shoe industry forever. The little-known story of Jan Matzeliger and his machine comes to life for young readers.

Amazon logo
Barnes and Noble logo
Indie Bound logo
Books a Million logo


bottom of page