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Hilton Kelly, Catskill fiddler and caller

Hilton Kelly, of Fleischmanns, New York, is a Catskills fiddler and square dance caller. He started playing in 1932, at age 5, and started calling in 1937. By the time he was 15, he had a regular band and was playing regularly at house parties, schools, and public events throughout the region. In 1953, Kelly says he was doing 6 or 7 dances a week,…

Jubilee U.S.A. square dancers, 3 - Ozark

This clip features a straightforward Right Hand High and Left Hand Low, but done at a dizzying tempo-- 172 beats per minute!

Jubilee U.S.A. square dancers, 2 - Ozark

Early on, this clip features Ladies Star while gents promenade, then allemande left and Gents Star while ladies promenade. Later, the dancers move into lines of three dancers at the sides with long gents at the heads, but instead of doing a simple Right Hand High and Left Hand Low, the sides do a Triple Duck (1:06) figure to send ladies to the head…

Jubilee U.S.A. square dancers, 1 - Ozark

This clip features Sides Divide while head couples circle in the center of the ring and do a doceydo. The tempo is fast-- 164 beats per minute-- but #3 in this series is even faster!

The Ozark Jubilee and its successor (starting in 1958) Jubilee U.S.A. broadcast from Springfield, Missouri, and always featured a square dance segment as well as…

Texas Star - Mike Rogers, Wien, Missouri, 1994

The caller is 92-year-old Mike Rogers, patter calling at a jam session and square dance held at Wien (Chariton County in north central Missouri) in 1994. There's close-up footage of Rogers starting at 2:15, 3:45 and 7:20. He changes the calls about halfway through, to two gents allemande followed by a doceydo figure. Fiddlers include Nile Wilson…

Polly Wolly Hoedown - Eddie Evans

Eddie Evans was an Australian caller.

MacNamara's Band - Irene Hewitt

Irene Hewitt was an Australia caller, here doing a well-known singing square.

Ladies Chain Through the Stars - Bob Hunt

Bob Hunt was a prominent Australia caller, based in Victoria, who in the 1950s was calling six nights a week.

Cindy - Graham Rigby

Graham Rigby, author of "My Life's a Dance," was an Australian caller. Here he does a traditional American square dance figure.

Sally Goodin - Eddie Carol & his Corn Cobbers

Eddie Carol, called by some "the greatest authority on the American square dance In Australia," was a leading Australia caller who specialized in a singing patter style of calling after making a trip to the U.S. in 1943. Here he does a version of the traditional American dance figure.

El Paso Star - Bill McGrath

Bill McGrath was one of the leading callers in Australia, a self-taught patter caller based in Melbourne.

Captain Jinks / Divide the Ring - Leonard Hurst

Two clips from Colorado caller Leonard Hurst, who came to Australia in 1951 to do a series of radio broadcasts. He played an important role in spreading square dance to that area. More information about him is on p. 8 of the extensive series of articles here.The first dance, Captain Jinks, is a singing square; the second is patter.

Shall We Dance? - Maine, 19th century

This article, written by theMaine Memory Network Curator and Historian for the Maine Historical Society, takes two mid-19th books as a focal point for looking at etiquette and social status as reflected on the dance floor. H.G.O. Washburn's 1863 Ball-Room Manual of Contra Dances and Social Cotillions with Remarks on Quadrilles and Spanish Dance…

Let's Square Dance - instructional films, 1950s

In the mid-1950s, Janet R. MacLean, a professor in the Indiana University Department of Recreation, produced a series of six instructional films to introduce square dancing. The films, each approximately 10 minutes in length, show young dancers, probably students at the university, demonstrating different dance figures. Dancers wear large numbers…

Lloyd Shaw Foundation Summer Workshop, 1971

Brochure describing a 1971 summer workshop presented by the Lloyd Shaw Foundation in Colorado.

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…

Darling Nellie Gray - Ralph Page (clip)

This dance was Ralph Page's signature closing dance for an evening program. Compare it with Happy Hale, whom some think was Page's source for the dance. There are many examples of this classic singing square on our website.

Darling Nellie Gray - Happy Hale

Happy Hale was a caller from Bernardston, MA, and some have speculated that Ralph Page patterned his style as a singing caller on Hale's technique. Other Happy Hale recordings at the Library of Congress are a mix of contras and squares: Hull's Victory, Pop Goes the Weasel, Morning Star, Miss McLeod's Reel, Merry Widow, a Quadrille, Lady Walpole's…