Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Interdisciplinary Program


Kreg Ettenger

Second Committee Member

Mary Freeman

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Pickard


The widespread practice of ritually concealing shoes as apotropaic devices to protect liminal spaces such as walls, thresholds, windows, and chimneys, most often in private homes, dates to the 14th century. The practice also has roots in pre-Christian, pan-European traditions of domestic spirits and can sometimes function as a commemorative gesture to memorialize deceased loved ones. This study analyzes an early 20th-century concealed shoe deposit discovered in Long Cove, Maine and locating it within the cultural context of Long Cove’s history as a Finnish immigrant community within an approximately twenty-year period (c. 1890-1910). The study explores ways in which the Long Cove concealment shoe both fits and deviates from broader concealment patterns. Careful reconstruction of the home’s architectural history, the establishment of a chain of ownership through deed records, and the identification of significant details in the lives of the home’s inhabitants through birth, marriage, census, and death records reveal possible motivations for concealment. Since shoes were selected for concealment because they captured the imprint, both literal and metaphorical, of a specific person, probing the motivations behind individual concealments deepens our understanding of ritual concealment practices.