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.
from the website of the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historical Park "I was born August 24, 1894, in Fentress County on the Three Forks of the Wolf. Alvin York was our next door neighbor. His daddy was a… View item
Three photos of Catskills square dance caller George Van Kleeck. The third one was taken at the Catskills Folk Festival, c. 1941.
For more information about Camp Woodland, see this site. The… View item
Today, it's easy to think of Al Brundage and Pete Seeger as inhabiting two different world, Brundage the popular caller of modern square dances and Seeger the singer and banjo player associated with… View item
Rod LaFarge was a caller, publisher, and dance historian, interested in all manner of dances. In this account, he describes visiting Harlem on several occasions-- LaFarge lived in New Jersey--to… View item
Bob Dean was invited to be on staff for the 1980 program at American Dance & Music Week at Pinewoods Camp, a week sponsored by Country Dance and Song Society. This half hour recording by Ed Durham… View item
This lengthy interview (nearly three hours) with Fenton Jones was conducted by Bob Dalsemer and Drew Tronvig in Los Angeles in 1985. Dalsemer recalls: "In November, 1985 I toured the West Coast… View item
When thinking about Henry Ford's project to revive old-time dancing, it's easy to focus on his influence in the Midwest, reaching out from Benjamin Lovett's presence in Dearborn. These five newspaper… View item
Dean Edwards was a square caller based in Colorado Springs for some 50 years. In this interview, he talks about his Fun Finders group and his approach to square dancing. Toward the end, he is asked… View item
Maud Karpeles was a close associate of Cecil Sharp, the English folksong collector and founder of the English Folk Dance Society. While in Appalachia in 1917, Sharp and Karpeles had their first… View item
The author looks at the rising popularity of square dance among young hipsters and sees in it, and its Appalachian roots, a desire for a homeplace :"For one such group, the ill- defined, often… View item
This selection of photos shows the Sun City Promenaders, a square dance club in El Paso, and several Square Dance Festivals in 1947. The photos are from the Jimmy Clossin Papers at the University of… View item
This selection of photographs comes from the Jimmy Clossin Papers, held in the Archives of the University of Denver. View item