About

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.

Featured Items

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

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

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

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

Soco Gap Dancers

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

Recent Items

Bar Nothin' Squares - record ad

This ad for Bar Nothin' Squares, the live album recorded with Bud Udick calling, proclaims proudly, "DON'T USE MONOTONOUS RECORDS WHERE ALL THE COUPLES DO THE SAME THING." It's an early… ...more

The Great American Folk Dance

The caller featured in many sequences is Bob Van Antwerp. This film was produced by KBYU, Provo, Utah, produced in cooperation with the Associated Square Dance Clubs of Utah. The original… ...more

Bow to your Partner: 23rd National Square Dance Convention

Film of the 23rd National Square Dance Convention, held in San Antonio, TX, in 1974. Related ITems link to footage of other National Conventions in 1959, 1961, 1970, and 1976.01:30 square… ...more

The Lloyd Shaw Foundation in Action

This 1972 film describes the many activities of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation at that time. The movie was written and narrated by Don Armstrong, and produced and edited by Truett Myers.

In… ...more