Guide to the Jim Mayo Collection, 1940-2003

Collection number: MC 285 [Stored Offsite]
Size: (9 boxes) (9 cu.ft.)

About Jim Mayo

Jim Mayo started dancing because his sister needed a partner at the dances in southwestern New Hampshire, which were being called by Ralph Page. At the end of his freshman year at Yale, the Outing Club's caller graduated, and Jim replaced him. Ralph Page taught him the basics that summer and started him on a lifelong career. During his time in New Haven, Jim met and was guided by Al Brundage who introduced him to modern western square dancing.

After graduation, Jim spent a couple of years in the Army at Fort Dix, NJ, where he had the chance to call at the service clubs two nights a week. That experience led him to do the first night of class for nearly eighteen months. The soldiers in training were new each night, but the ladies were USO volunteers and quickly had the routines down cold. It taught him a lot about teaching.

Jim returned to New Hampshire after the Korean War ended. He started the first of several clubs for which he called and taught classes. Modern square dancing developed alongside the very active traditional square dance activity in his home state.

Over the next couple of decades, Jim was an active leader in New England. He called and taught classes for four clubs, in addition to holding a full time job as a staff member at a research laboratory, which was run for the US government by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1972, Jim was invited to the second of the organizational meetings that would result in the formation of CALLERLAB. From 1975 to 1977, he served as the first chairman of the new organization. Since then, he served continuously as a member of the CALLERLAB Board of Governors, and in 2001 was elected to a third term as chairman.

Jim's long experience has been valuable to CALLERLAB, and he is often consulted in the role of historian for the organization. He is one of a very small number of currently active callers who began their square dance experience before the modern form of the activity came into being.

Although Jim has traveled widely, both as a festival caller and as a caller coach (his job and his pilot's license allowed him to call and teach throughout North America and in Europe, New Zealand and Australia), he thinks of himself, first and foremost, as a local club caller. Likewise, despite his varied and extensive experience, and his notable contributions to the profession, Jim is most proud of his more than 25 years as club caller and teacher in New England.

As one of the few callers who began before modern square dancing evolved from its traditional form, Jim was well equipped to write its history. In 2003, he published Step By Step Through Modern Square Dance History, the first book on the history of modern square dance.

About the Jim Mayo Collection

The collection consists of papers documenting Mayo’s career as a western square dance caller, dancer, and historian. Two boxes contain detailed dance diaries spanning the years 1959-2003, which detail location, dances used, music, travel monies, and pay. There are a small number of photographs, pedagogical materials, and a box of syllabi from various camps and conventions.

The collection is particularly strong in the history of western square dancing. Correspondence with callers, most notably Bob Osgood’s 1964 survey of New England callers and Mayo’s own 1980s survey, form a rich picture of the evolution of western square dancing and its participants. Two self-produced scrapbooks document Mayo’s own long career in great detail. All of these materials were used in the writing of his 2003 book “Step By Step Through Modern Western Square Dance History”.

Mayo was the founding chairman of the international organization CALLERLAB, established in 1972. He has remained active since, and a large amount of material relates to the activities leading up to the founding of the organization and its early activities.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

This collection is housed in the Library Storage Building; access requires 48 hours’ notice. Please contact the Special Collections staff prior to visiting the library.

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], [Folder], [Box], Jim Mayo Collection, 1940-2003, MC 285, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Gift of the creator, 2012-2016

MC 270 Square Dance Foundation of New England Collection (Milne Special Collections, UNH)

Collection Arrangement

Materials are in original order as received.

Collection Contents

Box 1
Jim Mayo Dance Notebooks, 1959-1986

Dance diaries for the year 1959-1986, detailing venues, dances, calls, travel budgets, and other pertinent details.

Box 2
Jim Mayo Dance Notebooks, 1987-2005

Dance diaries for the year 1987-2005, continuing those in Box 1.

Box 3
CALLERLAB, Mayo Writings, Photos, 1970-1980

Material from Mayo’s involvement in CALLERLAB, including meeting notes and pedagogy instructions. Questionnaire materials used to ascertain the needs and tastes of dancers across the country during the 1980s. Several articles written by Jim Mayo for the New England Caller magazine, as well as material from his own square dance team, Jim’s Gems (1970s).

Box 4
CALLERLAB, Book Research, 1970-1990

CALLERLAB convention materials from when Mayo was chair for the years of 1976-1977. Also included are many varied materials supporting research for his book on the history of western square dancing.

Box 5
Scrapbooks, Caller Biographies, Syllabi

Two scrapbooks made by Mayo documenting his career, biographies of many square dance callers across the US, correspondence with many callers about their work, correspondence with Lawrence Loy, syllabi from various dance camps.

Box 6
Correspondence, Dance Instruction, Book Materials

Correspondence with many callers arranged alphabetically, square and round dance cutes, an early draft of Mayo’s book, and early square dance club records (Merri-Valles, Summersets, Insiders, and others).

Box 7
Syllabi

Syllabi from the many conventions, dance camps, clubs, and classes Mayo taught or attended.

Box 8
Syllabi and Pedagogy Materials, 1975-1995

Early CALLERLAB materials, camp syllabi (including New England Square and Folk Dance Camp, Knapp, Cromak Superschool), writings from Ralph Piper, Jim Mayo, and articles on Ralph Page’s involvement in western square dance.

Box 9
Historical Materials, 1950-1990

This box contains a variety of materials, including: background research for Mayo’s book on the history of western square dancing, convention and CALLERLAB materials, calling cards and calling tour materials, and a series of calendars detailing his calling schedule for the years 1956-1973. A small number of photographs are also included. Of particular note are copies of biographical interviews conducted with New England callers by Bob Osgood, ca. 1964. These consist of correspondence, photographs, and standard interview forms with callers such as Red Bates, Bob Brundage, Dick Leger, Ralph Page, Ted Sannella, and many other lesser known local callers.