New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) Papers, 1944-2007

Collection number: MC 278
Size: 13 boxes (13 cu.ft.)


“The New England Folk Festival Association is a non-profit educational and cultural organization, incorporated under the General Laws of Massachusetts to encourage, sponsor, and preserve high standards of performance of the folk arts and traditions in New England and elsewhere.” -NEFFA Mission Statement

The New England Folk Festival Association, Inc. was chartered on November 28, 1950. The organization grew out of a series of annual “Folk Festivals” held at the Boston YMCA beginning in October of 1944. The festivals were the brain-child of Grace Palmer and Mary Gillette of the Boston YWCA and New Hampshire contra dance caller Ralph Page. The annual festival moved to the spring in 1949, and by 1950 it had outgrown the YMCA. After many years in Natick, MA, the festival’s current location is Mansfield, MA. Many of the most important individuals in New England dance have served on the board and other committees of NEFFA, including Ted Sannella, Ralph Page, Larry Jennings, and scores of others. The last surviving founder, Mary Gillette, died in 1997, but was able to be present for an awards ceremony at the 50th NEFFA festival in 1995. A full history of the organization is available on the NEFFA website .

In addition to the annual folk festival, NEFFA has sponsored the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend at the University of New Hampshire every January since 1988, a yearly celebration of the dances and history taught by Ralph Page. The first chair of the RPDLW committee was Ted Sannella.

About the New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) Papers

The first three boxes are materials relating to the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend (RPDLW), 1988-2002. Extensive correspondence is included relating to the origins of the dance festival and subsequent organization of each year’s festival and production of its syllabus, providing what is likely the most comprehensive picture of the early years of the RPDLW.

The rest of the collection relates to the New England Folk Festival (NEFF, 1944-2007), and the New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA, 1950-2007). The incorporation of NEFFA and organization of the committees sponsoring each year’s festival are included; specific committees include the Executive Board, Publicity Committee, Dance Performance Committee, Crafts Committee, NEFFA Notes, Membership, Treasury Committee, and others. The last box in the collection contains presidential and secretarial correspondence related to NEFFA and dancing in general.

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 number], [Box number], New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) Papers, 1944-2007, MC 278, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Gift of the organization, 2012

MC 92 Ralph Page Manuscript Collection, 1940-1955

MC 190 Ted Sannella Papers, 1944-1995

MC 273 Mary Gillette Papers, 1954-1986

Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend Syllabi

Separated Material

Series 2, Box 12 Videocassettes are housed with the NHLTMD audio/visual collection.

Collection Arrangement

Collection is in original order as received. There is one series for the RPDLW materials and another for the NEFFA materials. Files are largely chronological within committee.

Collection Contents

Series 1: Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend (RPDLW) Papers, 1986-2002

(3 boxes)

Planning materials, correspondence, festival records, and publicity, etc., from the first 14 years of the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend.

Box 1
Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend: Correspondence and Minutes, 1986-2000

Correspondence takes up the first half of this box, and is arranged chronologically and then alphabetically within folders. Materials include donor and address lists, program planning, and correspondence with chair Ted Sannella, George Hodgson, Dudley Laufman, George Fogg, Kate van Winkle Keller, Rickey Holden, and many others. The second half of the box is committee meeting minutes, taken primarily by Ted Sannella and Ellen Mandigo.

Detailed box list

Box 2
Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend: Festival Organization, 1988-2002

Various festival organization materials including registration and attendance lists, evaluations, scholarship information and correspondence, syllabus materials, and publicity.

Detailed box list

Box 3
Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend: Organization and Treasury Reports, 1989-2000

Festival organizational materials including address lists, syllabus materials, publicity, registration, committee internals, and treasury reports for the years 1989-2000.

Detailed box list

Series 2: New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA) Papers, 1944-2007

(10 boxes)

Materials documenting the founding and continued running of both the New England Folk Festival Association, Inc., and the yearly New England Folk Festival between its beginning in 1944 and 2007. Committees include the Executive Board minutes and by-laws, Crafts Committee, Dance Performance Committee, and Treasury Committee, as well as grant applications, evaulations, NEFFA News drafts, and various other subjects. The correspondence of Ralph Page, Ted Sannella, and many others are well represented.

Box 4
NEFFA Board Minutes and Related Materials, 1944-1990

NEFFA festival board minutes and supplementary materials. This includes membership lists, reports on the festivals, craft vendor lists, food vendors, workshops, public relations, and exhibits. There are no minutes for the years 1959-1963, and extra minutes from an unauthorized auxiliary committee in 1973 are included.

Detailed box list

Box 5
NEFFA Board Minutes and By-Laws, 1950-2007

Standard executive board minutes for the years 1991-2007 are included, continuing the previous box’s sequence. By-laws and policy revisions related to the 1950 incorporation of the New England Folk Festival, Inc. (later NEFFA) are included for the years 1950-1980.

Detailed box list

Box 6
NEFFA Publicity, NEFFA Crafts Committee Materials, Dance Performance Committee Correspondence, 1944-2002

Publicity Committee materials (1944-2004): Publicity Committee notes and minutes, lists of newsletters, scrapbook pages, expense reports, and extensive correspondence. Correspondents include Mart Gillette, Ed Durlacher, Guy W. Mann, “Pop” Smith, Louise Winston, Floyd C. Woodhull, Bob Brundage, Ted Sannella, Charlie Baldwin, Angela Taylor, and many others.

Crafts Committee materials (1945-1990): Minutes, correspondence, festival planning, expense reports, and applications for the substantial craft displays held yearly at the festival. Correspondents include Ralph Page, Jean Sannella, Allan Block, Randy Miller, Ralph Sweet, and many others.

Dance Performance Committee correspondence (1954-2002): Extensive correspondence regarding selection and arrangement of performing groups for each year’s festival; additional materials include performer biographies, publicity materials, etc. Many groups are mentioned, including the Ed Larkin Dancers, Latvian Folk Dance Group, various Morris teams, the Kiakowiak Polish Dancers, and others.

Detailed box list

Box 7
Dance Performance Committee Minutes, 1963-2002

Correspondence, performer information for printed programs, lists of performers, publicity, expenses, ticket prices, applications, etc. for performing groups selected to attend the festivals.

Detailed box list

Box 8
Festival Programs and Program Committee Materials, 1944-2000

Festival programs and performer grids, brief correspondence. Several programs are annotated by Ralph Page, Ted Sannella, and others; letters include Bob McQuillen, Charlie Baldwin, Ralph Page, Roger Whynot, George Hodgson, Don Miller, and others.

Detailed box list

Box 9
Membership and Treasury Committees, 1950-2000

Membership Committee reports and address lists, 1950-1987, as well as descriptions of the functions and organization of the committee. Financial invoices, receipts, and reports for the years 1950-2000.

Detailed box list

Box 10
NEFFA News Drafts, 1985-1998

Drafts, planning correspondence, membership lists, etc., as well as a full run of NEFFA Notes.

Detailed box list

Box 11
Grant Applications, 1984-2000

Applications and supporting materials for grants for which the organization applied. These include extensive information about activities overseen and sponsored by NEFFA, as well as a picture of the overall scope of dancing in New England over a 15 year period.

Detailed box list

Box 13
NEFFA Festival Videos and Presidential Papers, 1967-1977

Festival videos consist of rough edits of the 1986 festival which include performances and interviews. The presidential/executive director papers are written by Charles Aaronson (1967-69), Kenneth E. Crook (1965-1967), Marjorie Worrell (1977-1979), and Ted Sannella (1973-1975). Note: The videocassettes have been separated and housed with the main audio/visual collection.

Detailed box list

Box 14
Evaluations and Non-NEFFA Correspondence, 1944-2002

Festival evaluations for scattered years between 1951 and 2002; correspondence to or from a primary person outside of the duties of a committee, arranged alphabetically. This largely relates to the NEFFA presidents and general secretaries. This particular box of correspondence is in many ways the richest expression of the many and varied characters whose strong personalities and dedication to music and dance allowed NEFFA to survive. Correspondents include Ralph Page, Irvin Davis, Mary Gillette, Benard Priest, J. Howard Schultz, Al Smith, Angela Taylor, and many others.

Detailed box list