Square Dance History Project Update

by David Millstone

Poster for a dance called by Duke Miller, circa 1970s. (See note.*)

The Square Dance History Project website launched in September of 2012 with financial support from CDSS, CALLERLAB, the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, and ARTS-Dance. We currently have about 800 items online: 418 moving images, 174 audio files, and numerous text documents, photographs, links to other websites, and so on. The website has been accessed by more than 6,000 unique visitors to date. One indicator of the value of the site can be found in a simple Google search for square dance history. Our site is second on the list of the 95 million suggested items.

Fascinating content

Among the special items included in our collection:

  • silent black and white footage of the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, newly synchronized to the appropriate audio with Lloyd Shaw calling
  • film documenting square dancing in Central City, Colorado in the mid-1950s
  • footage (in color, with sound) from early 1950s, of Mildred Buhler’s demonstration team, Redwood City, California
  • live audio recordings of dances and caller workshops from the 1950s and 1960s, featuring such important figures as Arnie Kronenberger, Les Gotcher, Ed Gilmore, Marvin Shilling, Jim York, and Don Armstrong
  • 100 dance high-definition videos recorded at the Brasstown, North Carolina Dare to Be Square weekend
  • 11 high-definition videos of traditional West Virginia caller Bill Ohse
  • a half-hour documentary looking at the world of Challenge dancing, recorded at a C-4 weekend in Lenox, Massachusetts
  • 130 singing squares, half as moving images and the other half as audio clips, with callers from Maine to California

Iowa dance program, February 1864

You can help

We have regional styles that are not yet well documented on the SDHP site; for example, we need footage from Cape Breton’s rich dance tradition, from the upper Midwest, and more from Quebec. We also want to strengthen our collection of moving images showing cotillions and quadrilles, those important historical antecedents to today’s squares. If you know of sources for good moving footage that would be appropriate to add to our collection, please get in touch.

* Duke Miller, a caller from Gloversville, New York, called for dances in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire every summer. One series was held at the golf club in Peterborough, NH; the poster is for his other series. Bob McQuillen, 2009 recipient of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award, played accordion or piano for Duke for 26 consecutive years.