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Finding Aids to Individual Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture

THE SQUARE DANCE LEGISLATION COLLECTION

AFC 1984/024

Compiled by Michelle Forner
Library of Congress, Washington DC
December 1994

SUMMARY

The Square Dance Legislation Collection consists of manuscript materials (1975-present) documenting the history of legislation to designate the square dance as the national or state (folk) dance. The bulk of the materials concerns the public hearing on House Resolution 1706 held June 28, 1984, before the Subcommittee on Census and Population of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives, 98th Congress. The collection also contains background material documenting the history and philosophy of Western-style square dance organizations and publications and their lobbying efforts to support such legislation.

The Collection was developed by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in response to national activity focused on this type of legislation. It was primarily assembled by Gerald E. Parsons, Reference Librarian, Archive of Folk Culture, who assisted the Subcommittee in preparing for the 1984 hearing. This is an open collection. Material on subsequent legislation continues to be added

Access and Reproduction: Access to the collection is unrestricted. Duplication of material may be governed by copyright and other restrictions. Key Subjects: folk dance, law and legislation, "national" dance, national symbols, square dance

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

The Square Dance Legislation Collection is a manuscript collection consisting primarily of correspondence, government records, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and other publications that document the history of legislation to designate the square dance as the national (folk) dance. The collection also includes material concerning related efforts at the state level. It spans the years 1975 to the present, with the largest portion concerning the public hearing on House Resolution 1706 in 1984.

The national Western-style square dance organizations have fostered a movement to add square dance to the list of national symbols. Since 1965, more than thirty bills have been introduced at the federal level. In the past thirteen years, their efforts also have focused on passing legislation at the state level; at this writing at least 17 states have designated square dance as the official folk dance of that state. Since square dance has not achieved permanent designation as the national dance, and all fifty states have not made this designation, materials are expected to be added to the collection as lobbying continues.

This collection arose out of the American Folklife Center's 1984 involvement with the House Subcommittee on Census and Population, which was then responsible for reviewing commemorative measures. This subcommittee turned to the Center for assistance and guidance in planning and developing the public hearing on H.R. 1706, a bill designating the square dance as the national dance of the United States. As an expert in American folk culture, Gerald E. Parsons, Reference Librarian for the Archive of Folk Culture, was detailed to help organize the hearing. The materials he accumulated for this task form the basis of this collection. Hearing testimony, newspaper and magazine articles, and editorials in the collection provide insight into the perspectives of both proponents and opponents, while government documents trace the official legislative history.

Series I consists of background information and administrative materials. Included is literature about modern Western-style square dance organizations and publications, material documenting related non-dance federal legislation, some administrative correspondence, and newspaper clippings about pertinent dance genres. Series II concerns federal legislation from 1975-1988. It contains copies of official government documents, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles and other materials. Series III concerns state legislation from 1984 to the present. It also contains copies of government documents, correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, and related materials.

COLLECTION INVENTORY AND DESCRIPTION

SERIES I: BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATERIALS

Location
Contents
Folder 1 Administrative materials regarding the collection. One copy of the collection register [this document].
Folder 2 Correspondence. Arranged chronologically (1985-1986). Correspondence primarily between the American Folklife Center, the National Folk Dance Committee and the Sets in Order/American Square Dance Society concerning meetings held between their respective leaders.
Folders 3-4 Background literature: square dance organizations/publications: Arranged chronologically (1984-1987). Originals and copies of booklets, handouts, leaflets, magazine articles, and magazine issues produced by the American Square Dance Society, Legacy (International Assembly of Trustees of the Square Dance Activity), _Sets in Order_ magazine, _Square Dancing_ magazine, and _American Square Dance_ magazine. The literature focuses on the promotion and history of square dancing and includes organization directories and editorials. Also included is an annotated copy of _A Time to Dance: American Country Dancing_ from Hornpipes to Hot Hash by Richard Nevell (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1977).
Folder 5 Newspaper clippings of pertinent dance genres. Copies of two articles from _The New York Times_ (1984) concerning the proliferation of square dancing and tap dancing in the United States.
Folder 6 Related federal legislation (non-dance). Loosely arranged chronologically (1789-1989) and by subject. Copies of United States Congressional Records, Statues at Large, Hearing Reports, memoranda, and newspaper articles concerning legislation related to national representative entities such as the anthem, symbol, tree, motto, seal, flower, and so forth.

SERIES II: FEDERAL LEGISLATION (1975-1988)

Location
Contents
Folder 7 Newspaper clippings. One copy of a one-page article, "The country squares off" (_McCalls_ 1972) that briefly mentions federal legislation. Copies of more than 50 brief newspaper articles from across the United States reporting that Representative Ted Risenhoover introduced a House Joint Resolution on July 31, 1975, to make square dance the national dance of the United States. Arranged chronologically (August 1975).
Folder 8 Legislation documentation: 96th Congress (1979-1980). One copy each of the following resolutions: House Joint Resolution 69, Senate Joint Resolution 125, and House Joint Resolution 552. All concerned "designating the `square dance' as the national folk dance of the United States of America."
Folder 9 Legislation documentation: 97th Congress (1981-1982). Copies of the pertinent United States Congressional Record, Senate Joint Resolution 59, and Public Law 97- 188, the latter of which designates "the square dance as the national folk dance of the United States of America for 1982 and 1983." Included are copies of newspaper and magazine articles concerning the bill. 10 Legislation documentation: 98th Congress (1983-1984). Copies of House Resolution 1706, "a bill to designate the square dance as the national folk dance of the United States," U.S. Congressional Records documenting the hearing on the bill, and a Congressional Record documenting the introduction of the Senate version, S. 1448. Also included is a list of the members of the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service, and the Committee Policy for Consideration of Commemorative Legislation.
Folder 11

Correspondence, H.R. 1706 Hearing (98th Congress). Arranged chronologically (January-August 1984). Letters, sample form letters, drafts, and memoranda primarily between House Committee members, Library of Congress personnel, and interested parties outside the federal government. The correspondence documents the establishment of Reference Librarian Gerald E. Parsons' assistance to the subcommittee for the hearing, requests for testimony, results of the hearing, and responses to the outcome.

Folder 12 Interested parties, H.R. 1706 Hearing (98th Congress). Lists of names, addresses, and phone numbers of the following: witnesses testifying in opposition to H.R. 1706, pertinent Congressional Staff Directory listings, North American record companies, state folk cultural programs, and cultural organizations.
Folder 13 Letters and testimony, pro and con, H.R. 1706 (98th Congress). Arranged chronologically (January-August 1984). Originals and copies of correspondence from individuals and organizations addressed primarily to Chairwoman Katie Hall, Subcommittee on Census and Population, for and against H.R. 1706. Also included are submitted copies of testimony of some of the witnesses at the hearing.
Folder 14 Hearing report draft and scripts, H.R. 1706 (98th Congress). Draft of the report on the hearing held June 28, 1984, on H.R. 1706. Also includes scripts prepared for Chairwoman Hall (questions to ask witnesses).
Folders 15-16 Hearing report, H.R. 1706 (98th Congress). Four copies of the final hearing report on H.R. 1706 published by the U.S. Government Printing Office that contains a transcript of the hearing held June 28, 1984, as well as letters and written testimonies submitted for the record.
Folder 17 Handouts, pro and con, H.R. 1706 Hearing (98th Congress). Copies and original booklets, leaflets, administrative information, and charts distributed at the hearing.
Folder 18 Newspaper clippings and magazine articles, H.R. 1706 Hearing (98th Congress). Arranged chronologically (June 1984-August 1985). Coverage of the bill and hearing in national and local newspapers, as well as commentary on it in square dance magazines and folklife newsletters.
Folder 19 Legislation documentation: 99th Congress (1985-1986). Copies of House Joint Resolution 316, "designating the square dance as the national folk dance of the United States for 1985 and 1986," a Congressional Record documenting action on the bill, and a Congressional Record documenting Senate Joint Resolution 425 on the same topic. Also included are magazine articles concerning the bill.
Folder 20 Legislation documentation: 100th Congress (1987-1988). One copy of House Resolution 2067, "to designate the square dance as the American folk dance of the United States." Copies of magazine coverage and commentary in _American Square Dance_ magazine. Arranged chronologically (July 1987-October 1988).
Folder 21 Hearing on H.R. 2067, June 28, 1988 (100th Congress). One copy of the final hearing report published by the U.S. Government Printing Office that contains a transcript of the hearing as well as letters and written testimonies submitted for the record. Also includes the witness list and multiple copies of some testimony (arranged alphabetically).

SERIES III: STATE LEGISLATION (1984-present)

Location Contents
Folder 22 Documentation of state legislation. Arranged chronologically (1984-present). Newspaper articles, editorials, and magazine articles that report on or give opinions about state legislation to make the square dance the official folk dance of that state (e.g., West Virginia, Idaho, New Jersey, and Ohio). Magazine articles document the square dance organizations' efforts to lobby for these measures. Also included is the text of Maryland's Senate Bill 43, "declaring square dancing as the State folk dance," January 1994, and testimony against it.

 

 

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