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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 is no current source that offers a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.

Golden State Round Up 1964

Grand march at the Golden State Round Up, Oakland, CA, 1964. Each row is 4 squares, and there are about 50 rows That's 200 squares, or 1600 dancers. The event featured live music, with an 11… ...more

Soco Gap Dancers

Photograph of the Soco Gap Dancers, North Carolina ...more

Princess Elizabeth square dancing - 1951

This photograph of then Princess Elizabeth square dancing took place during a visit to Canada in 1951. The press coverage helped spur the rapid growth of square dancing in that… ...more

Schlitz beer ad, 1950

Full page ad for Schlitz beer that appeared in Newsweek magazine, August 21, 1950, attesting to the popularity of square dance in popular culture. Modern Western square dancers were not… ...more

Santa Monica 1950 - World's Largest Square Dance

At the time, it was the world's largest square dance event. Santa Monica, California, was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in square dance style. Lloyd Shaw was invited to be the Grand… ...more

Doonesbury - square dance

...in which Zonker, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, presents a common view of one social activity... This "Doonesbury Flashback" appeared March 20, 2012, a reprint… ...more

Cheyenne Mountain Dancers in DC (thumbnail)

This is a smaller version of the photograph. If you want a significantly larger file that can show faces clearly, click here. Identifications of the dancers are with the larger photo. ...more

Old Folks' Frolic

This is a photograph from a news story in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times of April 7, 1942. Caption: "These lively square dancers and other oldsters performing yesterday brought a… ...more

Recent Items

The Caller - Jonesy

A list of qualifications and items to consider for would-be square dance callers ...more

Aqua Barn

Article describing Seattle's Aqua Barn, a floating dance hall. The hall was created by Jack Riley, who obituary can be found here. ...more

Daisy Alamo patter - Robby Robertson

This is a live recording of Robby Robertson teaching a "Daisy Alamo" combination of a Daisy Chain and an Alamo Style progression, followed by calling a dance with those figures. (The dance… ...more

Square Dance Legislation Collection

The Square Dance Legislation Collection consists of manuscript materials (1975-present) documenting the history of legislation to designate the square dance as the national or state (folk)… ...more

Clarence Haller - Ralph Page correspondence

These letters were sent from Lucile and Clarence Haller, Indiana square dance caller, to Ralph Page, the dean of New England dance callers at the time. They are clearly interested in… ...more