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Come Square Dancing (Australia, 1953)

Modern square dance came to Australia in a big way in the early 1950s, spurred in large part by two visits by American caller Joe Lewis in 1950 and 1951. This series of articles, in magazine format, from 1953, describes the history of the activity there as well as providing a look at key organizers and callers at the time.You can hear a series of…

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…

Pageant of American Square Dance History, 1959

This lengthy presentation of square dance history was presented at the Eighth National Square Dance Convention in Denver, 1959. Researched and organized by Dorothy Shaw after Lloyd Shaw's death in 1958, the pageant presented two hours of dance, from two English country dances (first edition Playford, 1651) up to Joe Lewis calling Alabama Jubilee.…

Florilla Perkins Ames, Vermont

Florilla Perkins Ames was 102 years old when she recorded this interview. She lives in northern Vermont, and remembers her father calling dances. Before that, her mother's grandfather used to play fiddle for dances: "In fact, in this house where I am right now they used to dance squares upstairs, in the 1800s."

Square Dance Caller's Workshop - Larry Edelman

Starting in 1988, Larry Edelman led a series of classes for square dance callers at weekend and week-long dance camps. This is the basic text for that course, included with his permission. The 52-page Workbook contains philisophy, teaching tips, dance figures, and a lengthy bibliography.You can view videotaped interviews of Larry talking about…

Monday Night Square Dance History (Minneapolis)

This is an excerpt from "Monday Night Fever," a Minneapolis community television program produced in 1986 by Bruce Davis, who provides the narration. The film is an introduction to the Monday night square dance that began in the Twin Cities in 1979 and has been running--with a few interruptions and changes of venue--ever since. In this segment,…

Square Dancing in the 1800s

Fred Feild is a long-time caller and square dance enthusiast; now living in Tucson, he was instrumental in creating the Chicago Barn Dance Company in the mid-1970s. In recent years, he has started looking through historical sources for contemporary accounts of square dancing, and he posts his findings on a Word Press blog. Generous in sharing his…

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Terpsichore In The Flat Creek Quarters, Pea Ridge

Pencil drawing showing a dance with African-American musicians and dancers with the following manuscript poem below: ‘Listen when I call de figgers! Watch de music es ye go! Chassay forrard! (Now look at ‘em! some too fas’ & some too slow!) Step but when I gibs de order; keep up eben wid de line; Whats got in dem lazy niggers?…

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…

Feature Square Dancer - Nebraska, 1956

These are excerpts from two early issues (Vol. 1, #1 and #4, both 1956) of the Feature Square Dancer, a newspaper published by Bill Shilling, brother of Colorado caller Marvin Shilling. To see similar publications, browse the Square Dance magazines collection.Some of the articles, notably those in a single column, will appear distorted when viewed…

Six Styles of Square Dance - Rickey Holden

Trying to categorize the different varieties of square dance can be a challenging task. Noted caller and dance historian Rickey Holden published his thoughts in this 1955 article in his American Squares magazine.Other items in the Square Dance History Project examine the classification of squares: Phil Jamison: southern Appalachian squares…

Al Brundage recollections

Al Brundage wrote these recollections of his experiences growing up in Connecticut and the growth of square dancing. His story includes discovering square dance as a boy, followed by the whole Brundage family getting involved in the activity and forming the King Street Pioneers. He mentions some of the important figures in the Northeast in those…

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Square Dance—A Social Recreation Aid (1937 article)

Article explaining the basics of square dance, the importance of the caller, the structure of a set, appropriate music, two methods for how to swing, and sample dances. Dance directions are given for Swing Andy Gump, "Single File, Indian Style," Cast Off Six, The Girl I Left Behind Me, Lady Round the Lady, Double Grapevine Twist, Two Lone Gent Do…

The Barn Dance Returns! (1937 article)

Article in Recreation magazine giving detailed directions for holding a barn dance:

"There is joy and laughter, rollicking rhythm, sociability and informality in barn and country dancing which is largely lacking in the more sophisticated social dances of today. Perhaps that is why the barn dance is returning. Once young people-and the…

The Country Dance Goes To Town (1940 article)

Article from 1940 extolling the virtues of country dances—square dances, circle dances, and contra—and describing their recent rise in popularity. The author declares that country dances "provide speed, change, hilarity, good fellowship; their music is fast and the steps are varies. And the calls that go with them leave plenty of room for…

Square Dance Goes To College, The (1941 article)

"Your grandmother enjoyed it and so did her grandmother, enjoyed it and so did her grandmother, so there is nothing new about square dancing. Yet this ancient dance form is capturing the fancy of the collegiate crowd as has nothing since the Big Apple came up from the backwoods of South Carolina."

This journal article combines reports from two…

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…

Square Dancing Is Fun, But--Teach An Easy One First! (1940 article)

Article from 1940 promoting the virtues of square dancing and pointing out the necessity of teaching simple dances first. The author suggests:

"The art of imitation must be used in teaching the square. Take the dance apart, bit by bit, and have the group walk through the parts until they know them each by name, and they will gain the thrill that…

Cowboy Dance (1923 article)

The Cowboy Dance

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