Guide to the Charles Francisco Collection, 1944-1997

Collection number: MC 296
Size: (1500 items) (15 cu.ft.)

About Charles Francisco (ca. 1920-1997)

Charles “Charlie” Francisco (ca. 1920-1997) was a folkdance leader especially active during the 1940s-1960s in Buffalo, New York. His particular strength was in Slavic/Baltic music and dance, but he also enjoyed contra dance, square dance, Scottish country dancing, Morris dancing, and English dancing.

Born into a working class family in Buffalo around 1920, Francisco excelled in math and chemistry. He was less than a month from graduating with his M.A. in chemistry from Northwestern University when he was drafted into the US Military in 1944. He worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he was exposed to the square dancing programs used to socialize new recruits. After the war ended he was transferred to California. There he was particularly struck by the well-organized Stockton Folk Dance scene. Upon his discharge in 1946 gained employment as an industrial chemist in Tonawanda, NY.

In 1946 he co-founded the Buffalo Folk Dancers. Here he indexed and procured recordings, taught folk dance, led a Morris-rapper team, brought international folk dance teachers to Buffalo, collaborated with Buffalo’s International Institute, started and co-ran a summer dance camp, and organized and participated in many demonstrations and workshops. After 1964, he retired from these roles and focused more on traveling for dance camps, including those in Maine, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, and beyond, as well as traveling extensively in Baltic Europe. Francisco settled down in Buffalo for his later years until his death in 1997.

Francisco is notable for bridging cultural gaps between middle class Buffalo residents and the early 20th century influx of Slavic and Baltic immigrants who came to work in Bethlehem Steel and other large industries. His efforts and the life of the immigrant communities were recognized in a 1992 exhibit and lecture series entitled “Put On Your Dancing Shoes” (curated by folklorist Mia Boynton).

About the Charles Francisco Collection (1944-1997)

This collection consists of ca. 1500 78s, 45s, and 33 1/3 RPM records, as well as a small amount of cassette tapes. It is housed with the archive’s main audio collection and is fully searchable in the repository’s catalog.The collection is particularly strong in Baltic and Slavic music produced in the United States and Europe. A through collection of Western square dance repertoire, New England contra dance, English country dance, and Morris dance repertoire is also included. Of particular note are the early Ralph Page recordings on Moses Asch’s Disc New York label.

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], Charles Francisco Collection, 1944-1997, MC 296, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Gift of the Estate of Charles Francisco, 1997

Separated Material

Non-audio materials have been separated pending further processing.

Collection Arrangement

This collection is cataloged alphabetically with the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance audio collection. It is fully searchable in the repository’s catalog.

Collection

Formats

Audio Recordings
Books
Manuscripts & Typescripts
Newspapers & Publications
Photographs, Slides & Negatives