These are sturdy, simple, inexpensive half-boots likely worn by a working class child. Thick, strong leather would have been uncomfortable and unforgiving for the wearer.
The machine stitching on these boots is extraordinarily tight and fine--fabulous. Very narrow outer sole for a long, skinny foot. They could be wedding boots. Donor Mrs. Ethel G. Douglas, of 5th Ave. in New York City, was born circa 1885 in Pennsylvania. It is plausible that these were her mother's shoes, perhaps worn at a wedding around 1875.