Background of Exhibit

This website and exhibit were created as part of my summer employment with the Heritage London Foundation. When I started in April 2022, Michael Wojtak, HLF board president and my supervisor, explained that as part of my employment I had to conduct an independent research project of my choosing. Initially, I was excited at the freedom but also nervous about doing something beyond the research essays I was used to. I had dozens of ideas floating around in my head but none felt like the one.


I brought up this impending research project to Western history Professor Michelle Hamilton and asked for her advice. After hearing about my interest in dress history, Dr. Hamilton mentioned London’s surprisingly rich hosiery history. I, of course, had no idea that London was home to six different hosiery factories during the twentieth century and was incredibly intrigued; Hosiery was not something I had ever given much thought to.


I began doing some preliminary research and stumbled upon a handful of Vintage London Facebook posts on the hosiery factories. In the comments of these posts, I discovered a large number of individuals who had worked at these hosiery factories who were sharing their stories about their employment. Suddenly, I had my research project!


I was going to research two hosiery factories – Holeproof Hosiery and London Hosiery Mills (I chose them because of their proximity to the SoHo neighborhood in London) – try to find woman factory workers who worked at either location in the latter half of the twentieth century, and interview them to record their stories! I had never conducted oral interviews before and as a budding nineteenth century historian, getting another chance like this would likely be slim, so I jumped at the chance to try a new aspect of public history.


I spent my summer researching, visiting archives, talking with historians, and interviewing past employees. I wrote blog posts to chronical my research (see below) and even though conducting and compiling these oral interviews counts as a final product in and of itself, I wanted to do more. I had so many interesting stories shared with me and I desperately wanted more people to hear them. I felt like I owed it to my narrators to share their experiences! And so, I created this virtual exhibit. I hope you enjoy it and learn something new about a remarkably underexplored area of London’s history!

- Paige Milner


If you still want more when you’ve finished exploring this exhibit – check out other parts of my research below!