Square Dance History Project
The rich story of North American square dance finally has a home in the digital age.

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 is no current source that offers a detailed discussion of the development of this form of American social dance. We hope this site helps to fill that need.

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NH/VT squares, 1940s

This is a collection of articles from the Hanover (NH)Gazette, reporting on square dances in the area (New Hampshire and Vermont) from 1945–1950. Chester Fisk, mentioned in the first article, was a… View item
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Round Dances, 1949

Round dances, or dances for couples rather than for groups of couples who interact with each other, have been a part of traditional country dance for ages. In the modern square dance movement, they… View item
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Miami Calley Dance Council archives - Ohio

This archive contains records of clubs in the Dayton, Ohio, area as well as the regional dance council. The Miami Valley Dance Council was formed in 1955, with representatives from 15 dance clubs. A… View item
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Running Set - Jim Wilkerson home recording

This is a home recording made by caller Jim Wilkerson. We think WIlkerson was from Ohio, so this particular cut is an interesting example of how dance styles migrate. We typically think of a running… View item

Colorado Square Dance History

This is Part-1 of seven parts of a ninety-minute performance that was presented at the annual convention of the International Association of Square Dance Callers in 2007. That convention was held in… View item
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Colorado Double Star

The double square was started by the Aggie Haylofters at Colorado State University in the 1950's as a dance formation for exhibition square dancing; The double square was danced by the Aggie… View item
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Square Dance - panel discussion

The consultants for the Square Dance History Project look at different aspects of square dance history. Participants include David Millstone, Tony Parkes, Phil Jamison, Bob Dalsemer, Jim Mayo, Larry… View item
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Square Dance in Our Schools

Writing in 1952, the author notes that a recent survey shows that square dance is a widely accepted part of school programs. "These certainly are striking figures. But they are not surprising in… View item
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Two singing squares - Fenton "Jonesy" Jones

1) Solomon LeviFrom his series of Square Dances by Jonesy, this singing square features a simple figure that appears in other traditional dances.2) Darling Nellie GrayFrom the same album. As one… View item
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Hey Lei Lee Lei Lee (clip) - Bob Ruff

California caller Bob Ruff sings the calls set to a popular song at the time. This clip includes the introduction plus once through the figures. Vic and Debbie Ceder has information about Ruff on… View item
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Progressive Squares - Jerry Helt

This half hour recording comes from a 1998 CALLERLAB session led by Jerry Helt, widely known for his use of progressive squares. (We appreciate CALLERLAB giving permission to share the material here.… View item
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Progressive Squares - introduction

This article from the Experimental Lab of Sets in Order magazine documents the introduction of progressive squares by Ed Gilmore. The article explains that he "developed an unusual collection of calls… View item