Square Dance History Project
The rich story of North American square dance finally has a home in the digital age.

About the Square Dance History Project

Square dancing has been an integral part of American social life for centuries. Traditional square dance was vital for generations of Americans, especially in rural communities; in the post-World War II era, modern square dance similarly enjoyed participants numbering in the millions.

Despite its popularity, the history of square dance has not been well documented. Scores of books explain specific figures and calls, but there are few current sources that offer a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.

Sound

Classic Dances of 1960

This recording comes from the 2001 CALLERLAB convention. (The audio recording is alsoavailable online here.)Jim Mayo, the CALLERLAB President at that time, was the MC, and he explains the start of the… View item
Sound

Forward 6, Fall Back 8

Colorado caller Gib Gilbert calls a traditional western square dance for a New England audience. Caller Bill Litchman comments, "He took his calling style directly from his father and Marvin Shilling.… View item
Document

Al Brundage and Allemande Thar

After Al Brundage went to Lloyd Shaw's summer school in 1949, he played an important role in introducing modern squares to his dancers in Connecticut. He went on to become an important caller in the… View item
Sound

The Old Square Dance Is Back Again - Carolina Cotton

For this 1949 recording,on the Mastertone label, Carolina Cotton (aka the Yodeling Blonde Bombshell) was joined by Fenton "Jonesy" Jones. The release was timely, as the late 1940s saw the dramatic… View item
Document

Mal Hayden - Seacoast Demonstration - analysis of dances and tunes

This is a detailed look at the dances, figures, and tunes used in the Seacoast Demonstration called by Mal Hayden. View item
Website

Arizona Square Dance - 1954

This item contains images of Phoenix college students square dancing outside of the Arizona Star at Western Saddle Club on October 28, 1954 in Phoenix, Arizona. The link takes you to the nine photos… View item
Still Image

Young African Americans Square Dancing - 1952

This photo shows a square dance at the Hallie Q. Brown Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1952. View item
Sound

Mal Hayden - Seacoast Demonstration, 1960

This is Mal Hayden, a New Hampshire caller who straddled the space between traditional and early modern square dance calling. Information about him can be found at the Related Item.Drawing on various… View item
Moving Image

A Better Missouri - square dance, 1937

This dance sequence is an excerpt from "A Better Missouri," a documentary film from 1937. The film was produced for the Work Projects Administration, and focuses on public works projects created by… View item
Moving Image

Southern Highlanders – square dance, 1947

This dance sequence is an excerpt from the film "Southern Highlanders," 1947, created as part of Form Motor Company's "America at Home" series. The film was directed by Lawrence Madison. The full… View item
Document

Camp Becket - child's view of square dance camp

Camp Becket in western Massachusetts was the regular venue for square dance camps. Caller Herbie Gaudreau, who named many of his dances for locations in his dance universe, created the Becket Reel.… View item
Sound

Bluebonnet Squares with Melton Luttrell

These are recordings of two sessions led by Melton Luttrell at the 1987 National Square Dance Convention in Houston, Texas. The focus of his sessions was square dancing as led by Herb Greggerson in… View item