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.
This article provides a historical overview of the dance performances in Central City, Colorado. The program began with Lloyd Shaw and one group of dancers in 1936, and expanded over the years. This… View item
This is an excerpt from a 1952 British drama film, attesting to the popularity of square dancing in England at that time. Here, a large group of dancers follow the calls while the orchestra plays… View item
This article, from Houston History magazine, offers a popular overview of square dance history in that region from the 1940s into the 21st century. The author was , with her husband, president of the… View item
This tip by Texas square dance caller Carl "Doc" Journell illustrates a series of variations on the Lady Round the Lady figure from southern Appalachian square dance. He has the ladies and gents… View item
In Chapter 6 of his autobiography, Dancing Among the Stars, caller Les Gotcher shares his perspective on what he saw as a series of attacks on him, orchestrated by Lloyd Shaw and assisted by members… View item
Dance from the later 1700s, during the reign of Louis VXI (1754-1793), illustrating this dance form that led to the cotillion and later the quadrille. View item
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
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
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
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
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
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