About the 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 are few current sources that offer a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.
This website, created by the Square Dance History Project, honors the 34 nominees to the Sets in Order American Square Dance Society Hall of Fame. Dorothy Shaw was the first person named, in January… View item
Larry Edelman writes, "It’s a drill that I picked up from an issue of SIO, probably from 1959 or so. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t note which issue or year. If it had an author attributed to… View item
Larry Edelman comments: "I believe I first saw it called by Paul Tyler in 1983 and he attributed it to Bernie Chalk. Years later, when Bernie was staying with me on one of his annual trips to the US I… View item
The author describes the overall structure of a southern Appalachian big circle dance: an opening sequence, the second phase with two-couple figures, and the closing sequence that involves all the… View item
This article profiles caller Ray Shaw, brother of Lloyd Shaw. Ray started calling square dances in Los Angeles in 1939, and was featured as the guest on the first television show that Bob Osgood… View item
This short article from 1946 describes a square dance club that has been meeting regularly for 17 years without missing a night, which would mean it started in 1929. The group counts 300 "rural… View item
These photographs of Duane "Wild Bill" Reagan were supplied by his widow, Pat. There's also a 1987 newspaper clipping describing his work.South Denver High School, Rebel Ranger, mid-1930sYahota Air… View item
This booklet was compiled by Betty Casey; it presents an overview of Texas square dance history. The booklet features short profiles of 14 "first pacesetters," figures who are important in the history… View item
This series of 18 photos were taken at a Saturday night square dance in Clayville, RI, hosted by Mr.and Mrs. Tucker. He is the local police chief and the caller for the event. Music is provided by a… View item
This is an interview conducted with Bill Litchman as part of the research into preparing a 2018 exhibit on "Square Dancing in the American West" at the University of Denver. Litchman discusses his own… View item
The custom of having a square dance as part of the Inaugural Ball for the Texas Governor started in 1947; this is the program for the 1953 Inaugural, scheduled for 6:30 PM until midnight. The second… View item
This is a full year of the newsletter issued by Rod LaFarge for his local dancers in northern New Jersey. The following year, LaFarge began publishing Rosin the Bow, a more ambitious commercial… View item