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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.

Doonesbury - square dance

...in which Zonker, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, presents a common view of one social activity... This "Doonesbury Flashback" appeared March 20, 2012, a reprint… ...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

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

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

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

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

1976 Square Dance Historical Pageant

Cal Campbell provides this account of the production of the historical pageant at the 1976 National Square Dance Convention. ...more

American Square Dancing - 1976 NSDC historical pageant

This is the program, prepared by Cal Campbell, that accompanied the square dance historical pageant at the 1976 National Square Dance Convention in Anaheim, CA. See the next item in the SDHP… ...more

St. Patrick’s Day Square Dance - 1956

This home movie (silent) captures scenes of a St. Patrick’s Day square dance in Clarendon, Texas. in 1956. Numerous dances and couples are captured, as well as children taking the floor… ...more

Square Dance History display panels

The panels in this set trace the history of square dancing over some 500 years, going back to early origins in England and France. They were assembled by Dick Severance, an early president… ...more

Square Dance Callers’ Association of Northern California

This website offers a brief history of the SDCANC, including a list of past presidents, a selection of older photographs, and information about the founding of the group in 1949. ...more