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.
Caller, musician, and collector Larry Edelman describes this as "a 2.5 hour audio file that I recorded of Hesse Reese, an auctioneer and square dance caller at an evening square dance on October 11,… View item
This article documents the change on American dance floors in Michigan state in the late 1940s, where, in the author's words, "croonersare replaced bycallers." She cites the work of Grace Ryan in… View item
Esther and Jack Arehart were the proprietors of Arehart's 1000 Acres, a "Ranch Resort" (aka Dude Ranch) in the Adirondacks region of northern New York state. The resort ("famous… View item
This collection of photographs from the 1950s shows children dancing, mostly at the large square dance festivals held in Northfield or Montpelier, Vermont. View item
Lloyd and Dorothy Shaw sent out a post-Christmas letter to members of their "Square Dance Fellowship," participants in the summer institutes and others whom they met. The poetic language… View item
This two-page summary was prepared by Betty Greene, wife of St. Louis dance organizer George Greene. In it she outlines the couple's ten-year dance history, and mentions some of the many… View item
Toward the start of the square dance boom in the St. Louis area, there were three clubs that sponsored Lloyd Shaw's visit: The Lancers, Boots and Belles, and The Promenaders. However, at the same… View item
This is correspondence between St. Louis dance organizer George Greene and Lloyd Shaw, setting up a 1952 visit by Shaw to the area. Note that Shaw indicates (p. 3) that he will come for expenses and… View item
These photos are from the early St. Louis square dance scene, organized in part by George Greene and his wife, Betty. George Greene played an active role bringing to the St. Louis area some of the… View item
This collection of photos comes from the family of George and Betty Greene, dancers and organizers from the St. Louis area, and were contibuted to SDHP by Ellen Hocker, their daughter.
1. Lloyd… View item
Sashay was a country dance bulletin published by musician Emerson Lang, of Danville, Vermont. It's clear from the contents that Lang's readers were open to many styles-- mention is made of squares,… View item
In modern square dance programs, squares are often intermingled with round dances. Similarly, traditional dance programs often involve a variety of dances other than squares—waltz, polka,… View item