Show Menu

Browse Items: 32

Kentucky Set Running - 1914 firsthand account

After graduation from Vassar and a summer holiday with family, Marguerite Butler, at age 22, headed for Pine Mountain Settlement School in a remote area of eastern Kentucky to try to make some satisfactory contribution to a 1914 world where few such opportunities were allowed for women. A few nights after her arrival at the school, folks gathered…

An Old-Time Dance, Missouri, 1929

An account from a 1929 newspaper of what the author deemed "what was probably a duplication of the real, old-time hill country dance." Interestingly, the words "square dance" appear nowhere in the short article.

McLeod's Reel - 1926

Recorded by Tom Owens and the WLS Barn Dance Trio; this band was featured on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio in Chicago. For a detailed appreciation of this program, see fiddler Paul Tyler's post on his DrDosido blog.

Buffalo Girls - 1927

The recording is [Tommy} Dandurand and his Barn Dance Fiddlers, recorded in 1927, with caller Ed Goodreau. Dandurand was a fixture on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio in Chicago. For a detailed appreciation of this program, see fiddler Paul Tyler's post on his DrDosido blog.The dance follows a familiar pattern: First lady (and others on…

Texas Cowboys - dance poems and lore

A collection of pieces related to square dance in southwest cowboy culture, published in 1925

Farmhouse Fiddlers: Music & Dance Traditional in the Rural Midwest

This is an excerpt from a detailed and loving look at what the author terms "house-party music." His focus is Wisconsin, and he based the book on interviews with nearly 100 musicians and dancers. Profusely illustrated with photographs and quotations from the interviews, all carefully cited in the appendices.An early section describes "the pioneer…

American Country Dancing on Colorado's West Slope

The article is based on oral history collected in 1979, though no footnotes or direct quotations are included. Instead, it is a generalized summary of the author's findings.

"Depending on the orchestra, both "country" (squares, polkas, schottische, etc.) and "city" (ballroom) dancing were popular around the turn of the century. Among the local,…

Western Square Dances at Fox Creek, Colorado (ca. 1880-1930)

Article based on conversations with Bessie Stafford from the San Luis Valley, western Colorado.

"In these early days, the dances were held outside on the hard dirt, the music being supplied by local people, and the dances were called by local neighbors. ... The early dances were all-night affairs and the waltzes, polkas, schottisches, and other…

Origin of Appalachian Square Dance

Thurston rejects the notion that Appalachian squares did not originate from American Indian dances nor were they independently created. He concludes that they came from Europe, particular from the British Isles and even more particularly from Ireland. He demonstrates a strong connection between the structure of typical Appalachian squares with that…

Adirondack Square Dancing

The author describes her experiences traditional square dancing in the Adirondacks from 1918 to 1965, when she began modern squares. This story appeared in the final edition of Ralph Page's Northern Junket magazine.She describes how, as a 19-year-old school teacher (1933), she boarded with a family who had a dance at their house each Saturday…

Virginia square dance, 1925, silent movie

This silent movie footage, created by Fox News, shows dancers and fiddlers recorded in an outdoor setting in Quitman [sic], Virginia. We cannot identify this location since it does not show up on current maps.

Frontier Dances - Bob Cook

A native of Colorado, Bob Cook's dancing experiences go back to the time when he was a seventh grader at the Cheyenne Mountain School. He was a member of the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers from 1939 to 1941. In this series of articles published Square Dancing magazine from May 1971 thrugh September 1972, Cook looks at a series of chapters that created…

West Coast Blues - Blind Blake

There were hundreds of 78 rpm records with dance calls released in the 1920s and 1930s; this clip from Blind Blake's "West Coast Blues" is one example. Other African Americans callers who appear on 78s are Sam Jones, who recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1924 (Billed as Stovepipe No. 1), Jim Baxter, an African American Cherokee guitar player from…

Henry Ford Shakes a Wicked Hoof - Literary Digest, 1925

Contemporary account of Henry Ford's interest in reviving older dances.

Fiddling to Henry Ford - Literary Digest, 1926

Henry Ford attracted considerable attention when he showcased the dance fiddling of Mellie Dunham, from Maine. This lengthy contemporary account describes that relationship in detail.

"Mr. Ford aspires to revive the dances of our granddaddies, with all their innocent, neighborly cavorting, and he is going about it in the methodical, wholesale…

The History of Square-Dancing - S. Foster Damon

The History of Square Dancing, published by S. Foster Damon in 1957, is one of the few books that presents a broad picture of the subject. The book was a reprint of his 1952 article published in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society.Dance caller and researcher Fred Feild summarizes Damon's main points about the development of squares…

Reviving Old Time Dances (article, Detroit, 1926)

Short journal article describing program sponsored by the Recreation Department of Detroit, with "Mr. Ford's dancing instructor [Benjamin Lovett]. "The dances are being enthusiasticaly received and mixed parties featuring them are held at least once a month in all the women's classes. The dances used include: the Badget Gavotte, Seaside Polka, Heel…

Cowboy Dance (1923 article)

The Cowboy Dance

Tags: ,

Ted Glabach - Vermont dance caller

This is the transcription of a lengthy interview with Dummerston, VT, dance caller Ted Glabach and his wife Marie, conducted in 1978 by Steve Green. Glabach was a farmer, born around 1913, who had invited fiddler Louis Jillson to call a dance in Putney, Vermont. (Jillson himself is mentioned by Eloisie Linscott in her classic work (1939), Folk…

Sammy Spring - fiddler & square dance caller

Sammy Spring (1883–1958) was a fiddler and square dance caller from Otis, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. This website includes photos of him and a lengthy interview conducted in 1939 by Edward Welch, a worker with the Federal Writers Project.

---excerpt from the 1939 interview:
“So you want to know how I come to take up…