William Mathias Scholl (June 22, 1882 – March 29, 1968) was a pioneer of foot care and the founder of Dr. Scholl's, a brand of foot care products.

William M. Scholl
William Mathias Scholl

(1882-06-22)June 22, 1882
DiedMarch 29, 1968(1968-03-29) (aged 85)
Chicago Illinois, U.s.
Resting place
  • Pine Lake Cemetery
  • La Porte, Indiana
EducationChicago Medical School (M.D.)
Known forFounding Dr. Scholl's footwear
Dr. Scholl's historical marker (26478216869)

Early life and career


William Mathias Scholl was born in La Porte, Indiana as one of 13 children. He studied medicine at Loyola University Chicago. During his studies, while working in a shoe store in the evenings, he became interested in podiatry.[1] In 1904[2] he invented and patented an arch support and founded the company Dr. Scholl's to sell it.[1] He was joined by his brother Frank who directed the company's overseas business, establishing Scholl Manufacturing Company, Ltd. in London in 1910.[2]

He graduated from the Chicago Medical School in 1922.[3] He went on to develop more than 1,000 foot aids.[1] These included a silver clip designed in 1946 to treat ingrown toenails. While too soft to have much of a corrective effect and difficult to apply, it inspired later steel clip designs.[4]

Scholl practiced medicine in Chicago from 1905 until 1946 while also directing his company. He bought a building and added to it for manufacturing in Chicago at 213 W. Schiller Street (now renovated as Cobbler Square).[5] By 1918 he employed over 300 leather cutters, press operators, machinists, packers and shippers.[6] He continued to serve as the company's President and chief executive officer until March 1968, when he was elected Chairman of the Board. He worked in that capacity until his death.[1]

Advert for Dr Scholl's Foot Powder Wellcome L0040545

Dr. Scholl was also famous for his advertising acumen, direct marketing to shoe stores, and establishment of "Foot Comfort Week."[7]



He left the bulk of his estate to the Dr. Scholl Foundation which he had established in 1947.[8] The Foundation has awarded over $224 million since 1980.The Foundation funded the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at the Newberry Library from 1971-2017.[9] It was a primary funder of the Encyclopedia of Chicago.[10] Pamela Scholl, President of the Dr. Scholl Foundation since 1994, was highlighted by the Trust for the National Mall.[11]

Personal life


Scholl never married. He was characterized as quirky, carrying the skeleton of a foot in his pocket. He attributed his success to the motto, "early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise."[12] His brother Frank, who had helped set up the original company, had sons who were involved in the company and foot care. Most notable was his nephew, William Scholl, who designed a wooden sandal.[13]

Selected publications

  • The Human Foot: Anatomy, Physiology, Mechanics, Deformities and Treatment (1915)
  • Practipedics: The Science of Giving Foot Comfort and Correcting the Cause of Foot and Shoe Troubles (1917)
  • Treatment and Care of the Feet (1930)
  • Podology: Based on the Experience, Inventions, Foot Comfort System and Methods of Dr. William M. Scholl (1932)

See also



  1. ^ a b c d "Dr. Scholl dead; Foot Care Expert". The New York Times. March 30, 1968. p. 33.
  2. ^ a b "Frank Scholl, Built Foot-Care Company". The New York Times. February 16, 1967. p. 39.
  3. ^ McClory, Robert, "Best Foot Forward: An Account of the Amazing Life, Fertile Imagination, and Remarkable Industry of William Scholl, Foot Doctor to the World, Including a Small Controversy Concerning the Authenticity of His Credentials", Chicago Reader, Sun-Times Media Group, January 13, 1994</
  4. ^ Grünewald, Klaus (2007). Theorie der medizinischen Fußbehandlung (in German). Vol. 2. Verlag Neuer Merkur. p. 48. ISBN 9783937346342.
  5. ^ Paul Gapp, "Cobbler square: surprising complex may mend the soul of old town." Chicago Tribune. August 11, 1985.
  6. ^ Scholl MFG Co. Est, 1906. Made in Chicago Museum.
  7. ^ Simins, Jill Weiss, December 19, 2016 “Dr. Scholl’s… or “Dr.” Scholl’s? A hoosier’s empire built on advertising." Hoosier State Chronicles.
  8. ^ "History of the Dr. Scholl Foundation", drschollfoundation.org
  9. ^ "Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture". The Newberry. Archived from the original on 16 August 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia of Chicago. "Funding"
  11. ^ Pamela Scholl Trust for the National Mall.
  12. ^ “Milestones.” 1968. TIME Magazine 91 (14): 102.
  13. ^ Honan, W. H. (2002). "William Scholl, 81, designer of a sandal that set a trend." The New York Times, 52066, 16.

Further reading

  • Scholl, William H., Foot Doctor to the World, Lutterworth Press, 2006. ISBN 9780718891794
  • Scholl, John D., III, M.D., A Biography of William M. Scholl: Foot Doctor to the World, 2007
  • Cats Cradle