Finding Aids to Individual Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture
THE SQUARE DANCE LEGISLATION COLLECTION
Compiled by Michelle Forner
Library of Congress, Washington DC
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
||Administrative materials regarding the collection. One copy of the
collection register [this document].
||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.
||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).
||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.
||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)
||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).
||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
||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
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
||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.
||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.
||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).
|| 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.
||Handouts, pro and con, H.R. 1706 Hearing (98th Congress). Copies
and original booklets, leaflets, administrative information, and charts
distributed at the hearing.
||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.
||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.
||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
||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)
||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.