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"Barn Dances with Calls"

Article published in The Old-Time Herald (Volume 7, Number 8) discussing what can be learned from a careful study of old dance records. Includes a discography.

Standard Club Quadrille (clip) - Benjamin Lovett

Benjamin Lovett, a New England dancing master, was hired by Henry Ford and relocated from Massachusetts to Michigan. He recorded numerous albums with the Henry Ford Orchestra, as well as authoring Good Morning, Ford's country dance book.

Edson Cole - Lancers Quadrille

Edson Cole was a New Hampshire fiddler and dancing master in the early part of the 1900s. Here, from a 78rpm recording, he is directing the changes for the Lancers. This site also includes the recording of Cole fiddling and calling for the Grand Chain.

Edson H. Cole - website

In her 1939 Folk Songs of Old New England, Eloise Hubbard Linscott writes, "Edson H. Cole of Freedom, New Hampshire, has been fiddler, caller, and dancing master for more than 30 years. When he was a boy he was sent to Boston to study the violin but he had acquired his taste for music and his prompting from his uncle, Jim Cole, famous in the…

"Dancing to the Music: Domestic Square Dances and Community in Southcentral Kentucky (1880-1940)"

This detailed examination of the role of square dances in south central Kentucky is written by a folklorist, who based his findings on interviews with 20 musicians, dancers, and callers in that region. (Another look at Kentucky dancing, by researcher LeeEllen Friedland in the late 1970s, can be found here.)In his introduction, Feintuch writes:…

Grand Square - Edson Cole

This dance starts with the Grand Square figure, along with other calls common to the 5th figure of the Lancers.Edson Cole was a fiddler and dancing master from Freedom, NH. He was documentedby Eloise Hubbard Linscott in her 1939 book, Folk Songs of Old New England. This 78 rpm recording was made available to Dudley Laufman, who released it with…

Devils Dream (clip) - Ernest Legg & Kessinger Brothers

Ernest Legg (1904-1970) was from Charleston, WV (Kanawha County) Kessinger Brothers were fiddler Clark Kessinger (1896-1975) and his nephew, guitar player Luches Kessinger (1906-1944) "Devil’s Dream" (Brunswick 256) was recorded in February 1928 in Ashland, KY

Henry Ford and Benjamin Lovett

Dave Taylor and Al Brundage called a dance in Lovett Hall in Dearborn, Michigan, around 1980. This article is Taylor's effort to tell some of the story of that venue.

[Editor's note: some of the information presented in this article is disputed by other sources, but we do want to make this perspective available, especially for the first-hand…

Uncle Steve's Quadrille (description)

This dance was published in Elizabeth Burchenal's Folk-Dances from Old Homelands (1922). This is the first dance iin the book, one of two American dances, along with Old Dan Tucker. (See the moving images of Burchenal leading Old Dan Tucker here.)Burchenal's dance description says it stems from Oxford County, Maine: "This is an old-time country…

Uncle Steve's Quadrille (recording)

The first audo file contains instructions for the dance; it is followed by two music files with calls for the first and second figures.Detailed information about this dance, as published in Elizabeth Burchenal'sFolk-Dances from Old Homelands (1922) can be found here; information about the recording, Victor 35739, can be found here. Victor…

Henry Ford’s Dance Revival and Fiddle Contests:
Myth and Reality

Square dance enthusiasts generally know something of the important role played by Henry Ford in encouraging an American square dance revival. This lengthy article by Paul M. Gifford examines this story in more detail and provides a more nuanced view than is commonly presented of Ford's actions and motivations.

Sammy Spring - fiddler & square dance caller

Sammy Spring (1883–1958) was a fiddler and square dance caller from Otis, Massachusetts, in the western part of the state. This website includes photos of him and a lengthy interview conducted in 1939 by Edward Welch, a worker with the Federal Writers Project.

---excerpt from the 1939 interview:
“So you want to know how I come to take up…

Ted Glabach - Vermont dance caller

This is the transcription of a lengthy interview with Dummerston, VT, dance caller Ted Glabach and his wife Marie, conducted in 1978 by Steve Green. Glabach was a farmer, born around 1913, who had invited fiddler Louis Jillson to call a dance in Putney, Vermont. (Jillson himself is mentioned by Eloisie Linscott in her classic work (1939), Folk…

Cowboy Dance (1923 article)

The Cowboy Dance

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Reviving Old Time Dances (article, Detroit, 1926)

Short journal article describing program sponsored by the Recreation Department of Detroit, with "Mr. Ford's dancing instructor [Benjamin Lovett]. "The dances are being enthusiasticaly received and mixed parties featuring them are held at least once a month in all the women's classes. The dances used include: the Badget Gavotte, Seaside Polka, Heel…

The History of Square-Dancing - S. Foster Damon

The History of Square Dancing, published by S. Foster Damon in 1957, is one of the few books that presents a broad picture of the subject. The book was a reprint of his 1952 article published in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society.Dance caller and researcher Fred Feild summarizes Damon's main points about the development of squares…

Fiddling to Henry Ford - Literary Digest, 1926

Henry Ford attracted considerable attention when he showcased the dance fiddling of Mellie Dunham, from Maine. This lengthy contemporary account describes that relationship in detail.

"Mr. Ford aspires to revive the dances of our granddaddies, with all their innocent, neighborly cavorting, and he is going about it in the methodical, wholesale…

Henry Ford Shakes a Wicked Hoof - Literary Digest, 1925

Contemporary account of Henry Ford's interest in reviving older dances.

West Coast Blues - Blind Blake

There were hundreds of 78 rpm records with dance calls released in the 1920s and 1930s; this clip from Blind Blake's "West Coast Blues" is one example. Other African Americans callers who appear on 78s are Sam Jones, who recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1924 (Billed as Stovepipe No. 1), Jim Baxter, an African American Cherokee guitar player from…