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.
The audio recording is from a dance at the Ballard Eagles in Washington state. The full audio (two sides of a 45-minute cassette) can be heard on the Internet Archive.Fred Park described the figure… View item
Fred Feild calls a traditional square dance, held at the home of Marion Waudby in Tucson, Arizona, May, 1999. Other dances filmed during this session are:Grapevine Twist (two couple)Grapevine… View item
This short essay by Ralph Page (1939) is interesting for several reasons. First, he's writing for a publication of the New Hampshire Planning and Development Commission, and Page cites the economic… View item
Article in Ebony magazine profiling African-American square dance caller Jesse Cosby, Waterloo, Iowa. The article references examples of racial discrimination:"Once racial discrimination stymied his… View item
This review of Lloyd Shaw's book comes from Douglas Kennedy, director of the English Folk Dance and Song Society from 1924 (after Cecil Sharp's death) until 1961. Kennedy had teveled to the… View item
Bill Miles was the fiddler on Dick Kraus's series of square dance recordings. Kraus is playing guitar in photo 3. Kraus obviously thought highly of his fiddler--see photo 4.Terry Bell writes: "He was… View item
A brief look at styles of swinging, c. 1954 View item
The author looks starts by examining the pronunciation and different spellings of this figure. He then explores variations, all of which involve a handhold:
Southern Highland or Mountaineer… View item
Tis recording, S.I.O.-DAL 1954, was released by Sets in Order to celebrate the 3rd annual National Square Dance Convention, held in Dallas, TX, April 8–10, 1954. Set to the tune of Roundup Time in… View item
The poster is from a 1962 performance of the Silver Spurs (Spokane, WA) in Victoria, British Columbia. It illustrates the many varieties of dance presented by the youth group, dances that are still… View item
The Canadian Olde Tyme Square Dance Association was founded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1954 by a group of callers interested in preserving, and promoting the traditional Canadian style of square… View item
This is a detailed description in French of the four dances documented in the Grand Chain - Grande Chaîne video. It was created by Hélène Gaulin, the caller in the video. View item