About

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.

Featured Items

Soco Gap Dancers

Photograph of the Soco Gap Dancers, North Carolina ...more

Princess Elizabeth square dancing - 1951

This photograph of then Princess Elizabeth square dancing took place during a visit to Canada in 1951. The press coverage helped spur the rapid growth of square dancing in that… ...more

Old Folks' Frolic

This is a photograph from a news story in the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times of April 7, 1942. Caption: "These lively square dancers and other oldsters performing yesterday brought a… ...more

Schlitz beer ad, 1950

Full page ad for Schlitz beer that appeared in Newsweek magazine, August 21, 1950, attesting to the popularity of square dance in popular culture. Modern Western square dancers were not… ...more

Cheyenne Mountain Dancers in DC (thumbnail)

This is a smaller version of the photograph. If you want a significantly larger file that can show faces clearly, click here. Identifications of the dancers are with the larger photo. ...more

Golden State Round Up 1964

Grand march at the Golden State Round Up, Oakland, CA, 1964. Each row is 4 squares, and there are about 50 rows That's 200 squares, or 1600 dancers. The event featured live music, with an 11… ...more

Doonesbury - square dance

...in which Zonker, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, presents a common view of one social activity... This "Doonesbury Flashback" appeared March 20, 2012, a reprint… ...more

Recent Items

Riverside-Sendai: intercontinental square dance partners

Square dancers in Sendai City, Japan (with caller Mac Ojima) and in Riverside, California (with caller Paul Moore), both dancing to each other's callers, an intercontinental square dance… ...more

"Fun People" - 19th National Square Dance Convention, Louisville, 1970

Documentary about the 19th annual National Square Dance Convention, held in Louisville, KY. Produced by the Kentuckiana association of square dance clubs.

00:00 Summer Sounds, singing… ...more

Frank Lane - Asilomar, 1971, 3 squares

Frank Lane calling at the 1971 square dance gathering at Asilomar, Pacific Grove, California

00:00 The Little Shoemaker, singing square
02:56 Dip and Dive, patter
05:30 Don't Sit… ...more

Lady Round the Lady - Jerry Goodwin

Recorded at a square dance on April 25, 1987 at the Prosperity Fire Hall, Washington County, PA. Jerry Goodwin, Caller Mountain Express: Chuck Monticello, fiddle Joe Fry, electric guitar … ...more

Take a Little Peek - Jerry Goodwin

Recorded at a square dance on February 7, 1987 at the Prosperity Fire Hall, Washington County, PA.Jerry Goodwin, CallerMountain Express: Chuck Monticello, fiddle Joe Fry, electric guitar Bob… ...more