The tune The Swiss Allemande was published in London by Mr. Werner in Humbly Dedicated to the Gentlemen & Gentry Subscribers in 1780, and by Charles and Samuel Thompson in 24 Country Dances of 1782, published in 1781, as well as in Thompson’s compleat collection of 200 favourite country dances: etc. (Volume 5) published in 1788. It crossed the Atlantic rapidly and Continue reading
We spent some hours at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts photographing the tune and dance manuscript of Jeremiah Brown of Seabrook, NH from approximately 1782, as well as a dance publication from 1801 which was owned by William Turner, a well-known dance instructor (and son and grandson of dancing masters) of Boston. It was inscribed:
William Turner his property presented by a friend Cate Farna
It was exciting to handle a book which he had owned!
We wish to thank all the staff members at the Antiquarian society for their help. We will be making a return trip in the future!
Just a few days later, on Saturday, October 8, we stopped at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, Massachusetts, hoping to learn more about Nancy Shepley of Pepperell, who wrote a manuscript of dances ca. 1794. The librarians allowed us access to their History Room, and we spent more than half an hour browsing through their holdings. We tried to find out more about Nancy Shepley, and discovered that there were Shepleys in Pepperell at the correct time, but they had no daughter listed as ‘Nancy’. They did have both a daughter named Anna and a daughter named Hannah, both of which might have been called Nancy. We will need to return, as the library closed at 2 pm that day. We wish to thank the librarians for allowing us to look through their historical treasures.
It was exciting in the past few days to be in contact with Natalie, a librarian of the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library, at the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) in London. As we continue to research dances from the 18th century, we wanted to get hold of a copy of Twenty-Four Country Dances published by John Walsh in 1764 in London and Jacob and I understood that EFDSS had a copy. After some back and forth, Natalie was able to send us a complete copy of the work and we downloaded it (it took a bit of extra time as the copy EFDSS had bound as Walsh 1764 was actually incomplete and had bound together some pages from Walsh’s 1764 publication and some from his 1763 publication of the same name.) Thankfully, Natalie was exceedingly helpful – and we thank her for her help.
We have not posted on this blog for quite some time now. We were relying heavily on Dance Figures Index: American Country Dances 1730-1810 by Robert Keller, that used to be available online. It has been an invaluable resource for us (as it has, likely, for many people interested in historical dance), as it provides information as to which dance was published in which publication or manuscript, and where to get copies of that particular manuscript. Unfortunately, the Kellers’ website (both of Bob Keller and his wife, Kate van Winkle Keller), the repository of years of historical dance scholarship, was hacked and was not available online for some months. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, at least for American dance. Bob Keller’s Dance Figures Index for American dance is now availablet http://www.cdss.org/elibrary/DFIA/index.htm
We recently purchased a copy of the Dance Figures Index of American Dance in book form and just wish to acknowledge the scholarship of both Robert Keller, and Kate van Winkle Keller, who have spent many, many years on the history of American dance.
Jacob and Nancy Bloom
The Wayside Inn Steppers practice 18th century dance on Tuesday nights at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. We have been leading the dancing there since 2013, which has caused us to do research into the dancing. Here will be our thoughts about what we have discovered, as well as information about the dances we’ve danced at the Wayside Inn.
Jacob and Nancy Bloom