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 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.

Document

Wisconsiana: Here and There (1949)

Short mention of the booming interest in square dancing in Wisconsin: "North, South, East, and West are resounding to the 'shuffiing' of the Square Dance which is sweeping in increasing… View item
Document

The Saturday Square Dance and Fish Fry in Dogtown

Cultural historian and old-time fiddler Linda L. Henry has done extensive research into the history of black string band music and dance in Warren County, Tennessee, halfway between Nashville and… View item
Document

Square Dance Calling: The African-American Connection

In an early and abbreviated form, this paper outlines the thesis that Jamison put forward at length in his later book,Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, which looks at the pivotal role played by… View item
Still Image

1988 Calgary Olympics - costume

This is a costume worn by dancers at the gala square dance that formed part of the opening ceremony at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. See the related item for video footage of that dance routine… View item
Moving Image

African-American quadrille, 1914 (#2)

This comes from the Prelinger Archives and the footage appears to be from the same reel as another itemin our collection. The first part of the footage shows common quadrille figures: opposite couples… View item
Moving Image

How Squares Evolved – Tony Parkes

Dance caller and historian Tony Parkes leads a workshop on how square dancing changed from traditional forms to modern squares as found in MWSD clubs. He starts by looking at "swoopies," circular… View item
Sound

Take a Little Peek - Floyd Lockhart

We've been unable to locate information about caller Floyd Lockhart—please contact SDHP if you have any—but he's paired as a caller on the album on which this file appears with Jim… View item
Still Image

Jim Munyon

This album sent us searching to learn more about the two individuals. We've determined that "Munyan" refers to Jim Munyon, who was a southern California dance caller who appears in numerous newspaper… View item
Sound

Wreck of the Old '97 - Jim Munyon

Jim Munyon was a popular caller in southern California in the early 1950s. Indeed, he was one of the callers at the famous (and enormous) 1950 square dance in Santa Monica with Lloyd Shaw as the MC.… View item
Website

Explaining Traditional Squares and Contras to MWSD folks

This website is an effort by Clark Baker—a MWSD caller who also enjoys traditional contras and squares—to explain those more traditional forms to modern square dancers. Clark's essay begins: … View item
Document

MWSD Named Dances

In the world of modern western square dance today, most callers create the choreography for each dance. Even singing squares, where there is more repetition of figures, can vary each time through, and… View item
Moving Image

Clark Baker - traditional and modern

In this fifth and final video in this series, Clark Baker looks at two related kinds of dancing and explains the attraction of each: MWSD squares, especially in the Challenge program, on one side, and… View item