Square Dance History Project
The rich story of North American square dance finally has a home in the digital age.

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.

Document

Balance and Swing

This account from the early 1950s describes the Vermont Country Dance Festival, an annual event that drew some 6,000 participants. Daytime events focused on school groups, with adults-- 800 coiuples… View item
Website

The James W. Kimball Traditional Music & Dance in NYS Collection

Jim Kimball is a well-known historian who focuses on the music and dance traditions of upstate New York. The James W. Kimball Traditional Music and Dance in New York State Collection is a curated… View item
Still Image

Radio spots music

This is a record with music of the right length for producing radio spots. See the related item for three examples. View item
Sound

Square Dance Radio Spots

These are three radio ads that promote "modern American square dance." Each features a different well-known caller at the time: Don Armstrong Arnie Kronenberger Al Brundage They were created… View item
Still Image

Bennie "Cuje" Bertram

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
Still Image

George Van Kleeck - Catskills caller

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
Still Image

Al Brundage and Pete Seeger

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
Document

Quadrilles in Harlem - 1946

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
Sound

Bob Dean - dances from Pocahontas County, WV

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
Sound

Fenton "Jonesy" Jones - interview

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
Document

Henry Ford Old Time Dances in Vermont

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
Moving Image

Dean Edwards interview

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