Galoshes are a rubberized boot that is worn over a traditional shoe to protect against wet conditions. Typically galoshes reach just below the kneecap. In the United States it is more common to use the term rain boots as the term galoshes is considered old-fashioned and antiquated.
Galoshes as we know them today first became possible with the discovery of vulcanized rubber that allowed manufacturers to create rubber products with certain characteristics; namely the ability to maintain their flexibility in cold conditions. While the creation of vulcanized rubber may have allowed galoshes to be invented, the topic of who created the first modern galoshes is up for debate.
There are many conflicting stories on the topic, however, it should be noted that throughout history people have been wearing overshoes to protect their more delicate indoor shoes; while modern rubber galoshes may be new, the idea of an overshoe dates back a long time. For a modern type of galoshes you may also want to read our blog entry on Rubber Covers for Fine Dress Shoes