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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Swing Your Partner: 1940

Swing Your Partner: 1940

December 1940. "At a Saturday night square dance in Clayville, Rhode Island." Medium format acetate negative by Jack Delano. View full size.

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Teens in ties

Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man!


My impression is the glum looks are probably one of concentration - until you really internalize the various dance moves one is often so concerned with getting them right that it's hard to relax and enjoy the moment.

Fond Memories

Square dancing was part of the middle school physical education curriculum when I was growing up in Michigan in the late 1970s. Every winter we would do a 3 or 4 week unit on square dancing in gym class. I still remember how to do some of the "calls" like allemande left, do-si-do, and promenade. I always looked forward to it, as it was a lot more fun to dance with the girls than to do wrestling or basketball with other sweaty guys.

The loathing

The girl on the left and I feel exactly the same way about dancing.

Not Famous for You

I thought I knew every city and town in Rhode Island, but never heard of Clayville until today.

In the last Census, it had a population of 300 in 1.75 square miles. So, I guess I can be forgiven my ignorance.

I think the Gal on the left is thinking:

I just want to go home.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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