Primary Sources for Historic Dance
from the collection of Richard Powers
Available for free download
I have made 108 primary sources from my collection available to dance historians. 62 books and 46 single dance descriptions.
These are sources that are not already available from the Library of Congress site, Google Books, or any other site.
Click on the O icon to view the source. Right-click to download. Or once you're viewing the pdf, the download icon is in the upper right corner.
The complete listing of my collection is here.
c. before a date means circa, which is my best guess of the date of an undated source.
This listing is divided into three sections: dance manuals, single dance descriptions, and orchestrated dance music.
O c.1792 • A. Lefebvre • 2me RECEUIL DE CONTREDANSES NOUVELLES, WALTZ ET ALLEMANDES • Lyon
O 1802 • Saltator • A TREATISE ON DANCING; Together with a Full Description of Dancing in General—Lessons, Steps, Figures, &c. • Boston
This is the earliest American social dance manual, beyond simple collections of country dances. It features a unique system of dance descriptions, and the Congo Minuet.
O 1807 • Anon. • COTILLIONS & COUNTRY DANCES, BOSTON, MARCH 1807 • Boston
64-page handwritten manuscript collection of 159 country dances and cotillions. It's valuable for tracking changes in country dances that were evolving in the early 19th century; it gives rare footwork suggestions; and is the only surviving description of several country dances.
Yuriy Chernyshov transcribed this book here.
O 1826 • Louis Casorti • DER INSTRUCTIVE TANZMEISTER FÜR HERREN UND DAMEN • Almenau
O c.1828 • J. S. Pollock • LA TERPSICHORE MODERNE; Selection of the Most Fashionable Quadrilles, bound with c.1830 COMPANION TO LA TERPSICHORE MODERNE • London
O 1830 New addition • W. Smyth • A POCKET COMPANION FOR YOUNG LADIES AND GENTLEMEN CONTAINING DIRECTIONS For the performance of Quadrilles, Scotch, English, Irish, French, and Spanish Country Dances, Reels, &c. &c. • Edinburgh
O c.1831 New addition • The Messrs. (Robert, John, Joseph and James) Lowe • LOWES' BALL-CONDUCTOR AND ASSEMBLY GUIDE • Edinburgh
O 1836 • Henry Whale • HOMMAGE À TAGLIONI, A FASHIONABLE QUADRILLE PRECEPTOR AND BALL ROOM COMPANION • Philadelphia
O 1838 • F. (Francis) Lowe • THE SELECT QUADRILLE PRECEPTOR FOR 1838, Containing, Paine's Sets, Lancers, Caledonians, Waltz Cotillion, Mescolances, Gallopade, Mazurkas, &c. As Danced at Almacks. • London
O c.1842 • "A Man of Fashion" Charles Mitchell, publ. • A GUIDE TO THE BALL ROOM, Being a Complete Compendium of the Etiquette of Dancing • London
O 1844 • E. (Eugene) Coulon • THE BALL-ROOM POLKA, POLKA COTILLON AND VALSE À DEUX TEMS • London
O c.1844 • Eugène Laborde • La MAZOURKA, ALBUM À LA MODE • Paris
O 1844 • Charles Vernier • LA POLKAMANIE • Paris
O c.1844 • THE FASHIONABLE BALL ROOM POLKA, ELEGANT & GROTESQUE, CONTAINING ACCURATE INSTRUCTIONS HOW TO DANCE IT. • London
O1845 • George Lemore Saunders • ROCK'S BALL-ROOM HAND BOOK, QUADRILLE PRECEPTOR, CELLARIUS INSTRUCTOR, MAZURKA AND POLKA COMPANION, and VALSES À DEUX TEMS DANSEUR • London
This is an important dance manual featuring the earliest published descriptions of several social dances.
O 1847 • Charles Durang • DURANG'S TERPSICHORE; OR, BALL-ROOM GUIDE • Philadelphia
Rare Fisher & Brother first edition of Durang's first dance manual, before the Turner & Fisher editions. Not found elsewhere online.
O 1848 • Charles Durang • THE BALL-ROOM BIJOU AND ART OF DANCING Copyright 1847 • Philadelphia
O c.1848 • "A Man of Fashion" Charles Mitchell, publ. • A GUIDE TO THE BALL ROOM, AND ILLUSTRATED POLKA LESSON BOOK • London
The polka and other dance descriptions added to the c.1842 edition are noteworthy.
O 1850 • Lorenzo Adano • RACCOLTA DI CONTRADANZE • Torino
O c.1850 • Kent & Co. publ. • THE VICTORIA MINIATURE BALL ROOM GUIDE • London
O 1852 • Mr. J. Seaton • THE BALL-ROOM MANUAL AND ETIQUETTE OF DANCING • Halifax
First edition, before the Prof. Bland editions.
O 1858 • Thomas Hillgrove • HILLGROVE'S SCHOLARS' COMPANION AND BALL-ROOM GUIDE • New York
This is different from the 1857 edition and contains the only descriptions of the original versions of Hillgrove's Favorite Quadrilles.
O 1859 • Elias Howe, Oliver Ditson & Co. publ. • HOWE'S DRAWING-ROOM DANCES • Boston
I've been looking for this book for three decades and finally found it. It's a large collection of dance descriptions and calls matched to the music for each. 15 Quadrilles including the Lancers and Caledonians, 12 Polka Quadrilles, 4 Waltz Quadrilles, 3 Schottische Quadrilles, 3 Galop Quadrilles, 2 Polka Redowa Quadrilles, 1 Polka Mazurka Quadrille, and 27 Country Dances. Plus couple dance descriptions matched to their music, including two different versions of the Varsouvienne. The descriptions are from Elias Howe and it's published by Oliver Ditson because they had the rights to the music.
O c.1861 • G. (Gustave) Desrat • MÉTHODE DE DANSE DE SALON • Paris
O 1864 • D. L. Carpenter • WALTZES, GALLOPES, QUADRILLES, &c. • Philadelphia Notable for some distinctive quadrilles not found elsewhere.
O 1865 • Allen Dodworth • ASSISTANT FOR A. DODWORTH'S PUPILS • New York
The first of Allen Dodworth's Assistant books. Scans of the 1873 and 1878 editions can be found online, and 1883 is listed below.
O 1866 • Herman Strassburg • MANUAL FOR PUPILS IN DANCING • Detroit, Michigan
O c.1868 • H. D. Willock • BALL-ROOM GUIDE; A MANUAL OF DANCING • Glasgow
O 1869 • D. Spencer • SPENCER'S TERPSICHOREAN MONITOR • Peoria, Illinois
O c.1870 • Mr. W. G. Youens • YOUENS'S DANCE ALBUM & BALL-ROOM GUIDE • London With music for many of the dances.
O c.1872 • Mr. Layland • THE VICTORIA DANSE DU MONDE AND QUADRILLE PRECEPTOR • London
O c.1879 • Constantine Carpenter • GLIDES, WALTZES, GALOPS, QUADRILLES, ETC. • Philadelphia
O 1883 • Allen Dodworth • ASSISTANT FOR A. DODWORTH'S PUPILS • New York
The last of Allen Dodworth's Assistant books. Scans of the 1873 and 1878 editions can be found online, and 1865 is listed above.
Each one is different.
O 1884 • Prof. L. E. Dare • PROF. L. E. DARE'S FASHIONABLE QUADRILLE MANUAL • Harrisburg, PA
Includes some sets and figures not found elsewhere.
O 1884 • George Wilson • WILSON'S BALL-ROOM GUIDE & CALL BOOK: DANCING SELF TAUGHT • New York
It's curious that none of George Wilsons three dance manuals have been scanned. His opinions on dance academies, teachers and etiquette are unique. He also describes some very unusual waltz positions.
O 1887 • A. Squire, publ. • SQUIRE'S PRACTICAL PROMPTER OR BALL-ROOM CALL BOOK • Cincinnati
Several distinctive dances not found elsewhere this early.
O 1898 • George Wilson • THE LITTLE DANCING MASTER, A New Exposition of All the Modern Dances • New York
O c.1900 New addition • Arthur Morris • THE POCKET DANCE BOOK AND BALL ROOM GUIDE • Leeds, England
O 1911 • Joel H. Watkins • COTILLION FIGURES • New York Grand March figures. Full color scans (the L.O.C. scans are b&w).
O 1913 • Gladys Crozier • THE TANGO AND HOW TO DANCE IT • London
An important early book on tango.
O 1913 • Laura Guerite • MODERN DANCES, THE TANGO AND TURKEY TROT, MADE EASY • Buffalo, NY
O 1914 • Ridley Bell • HOW TO DANCE THE NEW DANCES • New York Hesitation, Tango, One Step, Boston and others.
O 1914 • C. F. Burgess • KING'S BOOKLET ON DANCING • New York
O 1914 • Mr. & Mrs. Rowley Downes • MODERN DANCING SIMPLIFIED • Worcester, MA
O 1914 • Frank H. Norman, Sr. • COMPLETE DANCE INSTRUCTOR • Montreal
An especially comprehensive dance manual.
O November, 1914 • Joan Sawyer • HOW TO DANCE THE FOX TROT • New York
The earliest booklet on Fox Trot.
O 1914 • Victor Talking Machine Co., Vernon & Irene Castle • THREE MODERN DANCES, ILLUSTRATED BY MOTION PICTURE • Camden, NJ Descriptions of One-Step, Hesitation Waltz, Tango.
O 1914 • G. Hepburn Wilson • HOW TO DANCE THE MODERN DANCES • New York
O 1915 • Victor Talking Machine Co., Vernon & Irene Castle • VICTOR RECORDS FOR DANCING • Camden, NJ
Descriptions of One-Step, Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Castle Schottische, Paul Jones and others.
O 1915 • American National Association Masters of Dancing • DESCRIPTION OF MODERN DANCES AS STANDARDIZED BY THE NEW YORK SOCIETY TEACHERS OF DANCING • New York
O c.1916 • Nicanor M. Lima • EL TANGO ARGENTINO DE SALON, Método de Baile, Teórico, Practica • Buenos Aires
This is the earliest known tango dance manual from Argentina. It contains detailed descriptions of 50 figures and 125 variations, accompanied by 67 illustrations and diagrams.
O Undated* • L. (Lester) L. Smith • OLD TIME DANCE CALLS • Shenandoah, Iowa
This is a very early example of what became traditional American patter-style square dance calling.
* The source for this book believes it to be 1919, but all we know with certainty is that it predates Smith's 1924 call book (below).
O 1922 • Arthur Murray • Early Murray correspondence course packet of materials, including HOW TO BECOME A GOOD DANCER • New York
O 1922 • Arthur Murray • THE MODERN DANCES • New York Arthur Murray's first dance manual.
O 1922 • Arthur Murray • THE MODERN DANCES - AN INTRODUCTORY COURSE • New York
This is a rearranged and reduced version of Murray's first book, with added chapters on etiquette and conversation.
O 1922 • Arthur Murray • THE MODERN DANCES - ADVANCED COURSE • New York
New figures not in the first two books, with added chapters on social conventions.
O 1924 • Lester L. Smith • YE OLD TIME DANCE CALLS • Shenandoah, Iowa
O 1926 • Bemis Walker • HOW TO CHARLESTON CORRECTLY • Minneapolis
O 1937 • National Dance League • DANCE DIGEST • New York With descriptions of the Big Apple and Carolina Shag.
O 1938 • Dancing Masters Of America • DESCRIPTION OF THE DANCES - 55th ANNUAL CONVENTION of the DANCING MASTERS OF AMERICA • New Orleans
This scan was requested by a colleague. Contains "Posin" (Big Apple steps), Collegiate Swing Foxtrot, waltzes and tangos.
O 1938 • Norma Goldman • HOW TO DANCE THE BIG APPLE • Newark, NJ
Single dance descriptions Most of the 20th century ones are single-sheet descriptions accompanying piano music.
O c.1816 • Edward Payne • PAYNE'S SIX NEW FAVORITE WALTZES (Arranged as the First Set of Quadrilles) • London
This seems to be the very first Waltz Quadrille, with the figures Le Pantalon Waltz, L'Ete Waltz, La Poule Waltz, Le Trénise Waltz and La Finale Waltz. Payne was the first to publish Quadrilles (ca. 1814 or 1815), pre-dating James Paine's First Set by a year. Payne was also teaching Waltzes in 1815, so he combined the two into the First Set of Quadrilles as a Waltz. This is not listed in any other library or collection.
O 1816 or 1817 • Monsr. Pratt • PRATT'S FIRST SETT OF QUADRILLES... TO WHICH ARE ADDED FOUR FAVORITE WALTZES • London
Quadrilles by Pratt are rare and his First Sett is especially hard to find.
O c.1816 • James Paine • PAINE OF ALMACK'S SECOND SET OF QUADRILLES, with their Proper Figures in French & English, including the Celebrated Sauteuse. (Front page signed by Paine) • London
O 1816 or 1817 • James Paine • PAINE OF ALMACK'S FOURTH SET OF QUADRILLES, with their Proper Figures in French & English as Performed by Mr. Paine's Band, at Almack's the Argyll Rooms, and the Nobilities Assemblies, To which is added The Brussels & a Russian Waltz (First Edition, front page signed by Paine) • London
O c.1817 • James Paine • PAINE OF ALMACK'S FIFTH SET OF QUADRILLES... To Which is Added The Echo Waltz and The Emperor Alexander's favorite Polonoise [sic] (First Edition, front page signed by Paine) • London
O 1827 • James Paine • PAINE'S CELEBRATED SET OF QUADRILLES. • London
This is the first quadrille of Paine's second series of quadrilles, after his 16 sets published between 1816 and 1821.
O c.1830 • Joseph Hart • HART'S ROYAL MAZOURKAS (Hart's 1st Set of Mazurkas) • London
This is the earliest known description of the steps, figures and music for mazurka.
I gave that sheet music to Lexington Vintage Dance and they recorded all five mazurkas, arranged for orchestra, available here.
O 1829 • Joseph Hart • HART'S THIRTIETH SET, OR CELEBRATED ARCHER'S QUADRILLES. Arranged as Duets by N. B. Challoner, from Challoner's personal library. • London
I'm offering this for download because no other library or collection seems to have it.
O 1834 • Joseph Hart • HART'S FATHERLAND OR MOUNTAINEER QUADRILLES. Arranged as Duets by N. B. Challoner, from Challoner's personal library. • London
I'm offering this for download because no other library or collection seems to have it.
O 1844 • Cellarius • THE CELEBRATED BOHEMIAN PEASANT POLKA DANCE • New York Description, with sheet music.
O May, 1844 • Charles D'Albert • LA POLKA: TAUGHT BY M. D'ALBERT • London Description, with sheet music for two polkas and a redowa.
O 1845 • E. Ferrett, publ. • DESCRIPTION OF THE CELLARIUS WALTZ, AND MAZOURKA QUADRILLE, with THE FIGURES OF THE LONDON POLKA QUADRILLES. • New York Accompanying sheet music for Les Russes.
O c.1845 • E. Ferrett, publ. • DESCRIPTION OF THE CELEBRATED MAZURKA OF SPA. • New York Accompanying sheet music for The Original Mazurka by Jullien.
O c.1847 • F. Burgmuller • LA REDOWA Description, with sheet music.
O c.1848 • J. Meissonnier, publ. • MAZOURKAS FAVORITES Executees au Cours de Mr. Cellarius • Paris Description of mazurka steps and figures, with sheet music for the Kasia and Basia mazurkas
O c.1848 • C. Sheard, publ. • INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING THE CELLARIUS VALSE • London Description, with sheet music for the The Cellarius Waltz.
O c.1852 • Edgar Webster • THE TRIPLET, A NEW DANCE COMPRISING THE GALOP, VALSE À DEUX TEMPS, & POLKA. • London Description, with sheet music.
O 1853 • James Wiley • Handwritten description of a Schottisch Quadrille • Newark, NJ
O 1857 • Philippe Gawlikowski • MAZURKA, THÉORIE DES FIGURES ET DES PAS • Paris
O 1859 • Hlasko • ROYAL HORSE GUARDS QUADRILLE. • Philadelphia Description and sheet music.
O 1888 • Prof J. F. Davis • LE BRONCO, A ROUND DANCE • Boston Description with sheet music.
O 1905 • M. Eugénio • LA MATTCHICHI (LA MAXIXE), THÉORIE DE LA DANSE • Boston Description of an early version of the maxixe, with sheet music.
O 1908 • George R. Puckett • THE QUAKE. • San Francisco Description of a post-earthquake novelty dance, with sheet music.
O 1911 • Prof. L. Robert • THÉORIE DU VRAI TANGO ARGENTIN • Paris
An early, possibly the earliest, description of 20th Century Argentine Tango.
O 1912 • Uriel Davis • HOW TO DANCE THE HORSE TROT. • New York Description and sheet music.
O 1912 • George Grossmith • THE ARGENTINE TANGO • London/New York Description accompanying sheet music for The Argentine, Tango-Dance, Danced by Miss Julia Sanderson and Mr. Vernon Castle.
O 1912 • Prof. L. Robert • LE VRAI TURKEY TROT, Nouvelle Danse Americaine de Salon • Paris Description accompanying sheet music for Everybody's Doing It.
O 1912 • Prof. L. Robert • MAXIXE BRESILIENNE, Nouvelle Danse de Salon • Paris Description accompanying sheet music for Maxixe Bresilienne.
O 1912 • A. J. Sheafe, Master of Dancing • INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING THE TURKEY TROT • Boston Description accompanying sheet music for The Gobbler, Turkey Trot.
O 1913 • N. Georgevitch • THEORY OF THE "CASTLE-WALK" DANCE. • Berlin Description accompanying sheet music for Très Moutarde.
O 1914 • Alice Martin • THE ORIGINAL HESITATION WALTZ • New York Description accompanying sheet music for The Original Hesitation Waltz.
O 1914 • Thomas McDougall, Pittsburgh, Pa. • THE FOX TROT, DANCE DESCRIPTION • New York Description accompanying sheet music for Old Homestead Fox Trot.
O 1914 • Louis Mentel • DIRECTIONS FOR DANCING THE ONE-STEP • Cincinnati Description accompanying sheet music for More Mustard One-Step.
O 1914 • Louis Mentel • DIRECTIONS FOR DANCING THE TANGO • Cincinnati Description accompanying sheet music for Mentel's Tango.
O 1914 • Louis Mentel • DIRECTIONS FOR DANCING THE FOX TROT • Cincinnati Description accompanying sheet music for Mentel's Fox-Trot.
O 1914 • Louis Mentel • DIRECTIONS FOR DANCING THE MAXIXE • Cincinnati Description accompanying sheet music for Mentel's Maxixe.
O 1914 • Louis Mentel • DIRECTIONS FOR DANCING THE HESITATION WALTZ • Cincinnati Description accompanying sheet music for Hesitation Waltz by Henry Mulford.
O 1914 • Joan Sawyer • THE AEROPLANE WALTZ OR GLIDE • New York Dance description accompanying sheet music for The Aeroplane Waltz.
O 1916 • G. Hepburn Wilson • DESCRIPTION OF THE TODDLE • London/New York Description accompanying sheet music for The Inner Circle Toddle.
O c.1919 • Adele Collier • FELDMAN'S HOW TO DANCE THE ONE-STEP • London/New York
O c.1919 • Adele Collier • FELDMAN'S HOW TO DANCE THE FOX-TROT • London/New York
O 1922 • Arthur Murray • THE ONE STEP • New York Mimeographed correspondence course.
O 1923 • Arthur Murray • THE TUT-ANKH-AMEN FOX TROT • New York Mimeographed correspondence course.
O 1927 • Cecil H. Taylor • DESCRIPTION OF THE YALE BLUES • London/New York Description accompanying sheet music for The Original Yale Blues.
O c.1928 • D. T. Foster • THE PALAIS GLIDE • London Description accompanying sheet music for Little Brown Jug.
O 1930 • Adele Collier • THE SEVEN STEP • London Description of a social dance in 7/4 time, accompanying sheet music
19th century dance music arranged for small bands and orchestras
O 1848 • THE NEW ENGLAND MUSICIAN, CONTAINING FIVE SETTS OF QUADRILLES, A COLLECTION OF CONTRA DANCES, WALTZES, MARCHES AND ONE SETT OF VOICE QUADRILLES; ALL ARRANGED FOR FOUR INSTRUMENTS • Lowell, MA
O 1854 • Stephen C. Foster • FOSTER'S SOCIAL ORCHESTRA • New York Music for waltzes, polkas, schottisches, quadrilles and songs, arranged for 2, 3 or 4 instruments.
O 1873 • Septimus Winner • WINNER'S BAND OF FOUR • Boston Dance music for waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, quadrilles, galops and more, arranged for violin/flute, cornet/clarinet, 2nd violin and 'cello. This was reprinted in 1873. The music is from twenty years earlier.
A recording of a medley of three of those arrangements, by my orchestra, is here. Moet and Chandon Waltz, First Love Redowa, Mars Mazourka. Free download.
Return to this page for future additions.