Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-2002

Collection number: MC 281
Size: (2 boxes) (0.66 cu.ft.)

About the Fitzwilliam Square Dance

The Fitzwilliam Square Dance began in the late 1960s as a resurrection of a long tradition of dancing in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, which dated back to the colonial era. The dance series was organized by James "Jim" Kennedy (?-2006), who was in charge of musicians, financials, hall rental, and keeping the dance on good terms with the town and its residents. Initially the Fitzwilliam dances ran nearly weekly during the summer with Duke Miller as caller; later fall and winter dances were held with caller Dudley Laufman (b. 1923). Callers Tony Parkes and Tod Whittimore received their professional start from the stage of the Fitzwilliam town hall. The dance quickly became very popular and was nearly always packed. Despite this, the dance often struggled financially, and matters were not helped by often tense relations with the town.

There was often tension between older Fitzwilliam town residents and the younger less formal dancers (especially those who were followers of Dudley Laufman's calling). Extensive correspondance, photographs, and newspaper clippings document complaints related to the informal clothing of the younger dancers, most notably over the issue of bare feet. Another contention was whether dances could be held on Sunday. When one Columbus Day forced the normal Saturday night dance to be held on a Sunday night, Fitzwilliam selectman denied the use of the hall and the dance was held in Troy, NH, amidst a flurry of press coverage.

The popularity of the Fitzwilliam Square Dance waned after Duke Miller fell ill in the late 1970s, and in 1980 and 1981 only one annual reunion dance was held each year in the hall. Duke Miller died later that year, and it wasn't until 2013 that a yearly reunion dance series was started by caller Tod Whittimore.

About the James Kennedy Collection on the Fitzwilliam Square Dance

The collection consists of the publicity, financial, and personnel negotiations which James 'Jim' Kennedy conducted to organize the Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-1980, and the financial paperwork related to closing the Fitzwilliam Square Dance bank account in 2002. Extensive correspondence involves Duke Miller, Dudley Laufman, Tod Whittimore, Tony Parkes, Bob McQuillen, George Hodgson, the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, and many others who played/called for the dance over the years. Photos of dancers, newspaper clippings, posters, and letters document both the dance community and its interactions with the town of Fitzwilliam. Five audio cassettes include the calling of Duke Miller during the late 1960s and mid 1970s.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], The Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-2002, MC 281, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Gift of the family in memory of James H. Kennedy, 2012

Separated Material

Audio material is stored with the repository's audio/visual materials.

Collection Arrangement

Arrangement is chronological.

Collection Contents

Box 1
Dance Papers, 1969-1973

Includes folders devoted to accounts, publicity, fundraising (including a list of 'patrons'), winter square dances, the 1972 Fitzwilliam Ski Area Concert with the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, advertising, and the 1973 festival of the Pinewoods Morris Men dancing on the Fitzwilliam town green.

Box 2
Dance Papers, 1973-1980 and 2002

Includes planning for the Dec. 29 1973 dance called by Duke Miller, photos of the 1974 dances amidst controversy surrounding dress code, the Fitzwilliam Square Dancers group with performed at the 1976 Canajoharie NY Peach Blossom Festival at the invitation of Duke Miller, and difficult relationships with the town and younger dancers. The last folder, dated 2002, documents the closing of the Fitzwilliam Square Dance bank account and subsequent donation of the funds to a dance community member whose house had burned that year.



Audio Recordings
Ledgers & Receipts
Legal Papers
Letters & Postcards
Newspapers & Publications
Photographs, Slides & Negatives