A short documentary that unravels the mystery of how the small town of Morocco, Indiana, got its name will premiere on May 5, 2022, on Chicago’s PBS station (WTTW). The film traces the story of an 1851 traveler’s red leather boots—featured prominently on the town’s welcome sign—back to the kingdom of Morocco.
Directed by Chicago journalist Jackie Spinner, Morocco, Morocco, explores the 171-year-old relationship, if only by name, between a farming community in Indiana and the country on the coast of North Africa.
Spinner, a former Washington Post correspondent, spent two years visiting Morocco, Indiana, to find out how the town got its name and what it’s like to live there. The film crew then traveled to the North African country to search for a bootmaker whose traditional leather-making practices would have been similar to those in the mid-1850s.
At the time, “Morocco” was known by some as a type of leather, with factories in the United States. Before then, Moroccan leather, made primarily of goatskin, was exported to Europe and the United States. Early 20th-century commercial ledgers list “Morocco leather” among the goods that were imported. Morocco, Morocco is the story of what they found.
In addition to the Pulitzer Center, Spinner also received funding from Columbia College Chicago.