Collection number: MC 273
Size: 1 box (0.5 cu.ft.)
About Mary Gillette
In 1943, Mary Gillette served as the dance chairman at the YWCA in Boston where she began a weekly Tuesday night square dance, presided over by the popular New Hampshire dance caller, Ralph Page. The dances proved to be very popular--the series lasted for some 25 years—and in little over a year’s time, were drawing over two hundred people every week. After one of these dances, Mary was chatting with Ralph and Grace Palmer, director of the YWCA, when the idea for holding a folk festival was born.
According to the History of the New England Folk Festival 1944-1994, "Mary Gillette envisioned a festival where New England's many ethnic groups could share their song, dances, and crafts and present them to a wider audience -- not in a commercial, isn't-this-quaint way, but in a simple, honest, straightforward manner."
The first festival was held at the Boston YWCA on October 28 and 29 1944. The New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) was chartered on November 28, 1950. Mary remained involved with NEFFA until she retired in 1984 and moved to the Midwest. She returned to Boston to be honored at the 50th Anniversary NEFFA festival in 1994. She died in 1997.
About the Mary Gillette Papers
Papers include NEFFA programs and news (1954-1986), posters from Cambridge YWCA dances, and close correspondence with Ralph Page and Ted Sannella. A certificate commemorates her involvement in organizing the Tuesday night dances at the Cambridge YWCA.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[Identification of item], [Folder], Box 1, Mary Gillette Papers, 1954-1986, MC 273, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Collection is in original order as received.
|Box 1, Folder 1||Correspondence|
|Box 1, Folder 2||Correspondence with Ralph Page|
|Box 1, Folder 3||Correspondence with Ted Sannella|
|Box 1, Folder 4||Dances|
|Box 1, Folder 5||New England Folk Festival Association|
|Box 1, Folder 6||NEFFA Festivals, 1954-1968|
|Box 1, Folder 7||NEFFA Festivals, 1971, 1974|
|Box 1, Folder 8||NEFFA Festivals, 1976-1979|
|Box 1, Folder 9||NEFFA Festivals, 1983-1986|
|Box 1, Folder 10||NEFFA News, 1984-1986|
|Box 1, Folder 11||Publications, Music and Dance|
|Box 1, Folder 12||Retirement Certificate from the Cambridge YWCA|
|Box 1, Folder 13||Nametags from various dance events|
|Box 1, Folder 14||Misc. programs, correspondence, and publicity related to Gillette's work calling folk dances for the Cincinnatti Folk Dancers, at the Kentucky Folk Dance Camp, and other occasions|