Show Menu

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Monica 1950 - World's Largest Square Dance

At the time, it was the world's largest square dance event. Santa Monica, California, was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in square dance style. Lloyd Shaw was invited to be the Grand… ...more

Recent Items

Square Dance Legislation Collection

The Square Dance Legislation Collection consists of manuscript materials (1975-present) documenting the history of legislation to designate the square dance as the national or state (folk)… ...more

Clarence Hall - Ralph Page correspondence

These letters were sent from Lucile and Clarence Haller, Indiana square dance caller, to Ralph Page, the dean of New England dance callers at the time. They are clearly interested in… ...more

Patter - Clarence Haller

This is the last dance of an evening program hosted by Clarence Haller in Evansville, Indiana. Haller calls a succession of traditional figures including Cut Off Six, Arkansas Traveler, and… ...more

Patter Calling - Ed Gilmore

This is a short clip of patter calling by Ed Gilmore. The choreography is the classic Ends Turn In that was created by Ed in 1951. ...more