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Guide to the Charlie Baldwin Papers (Unprocessed)

Charlie Baldwin was born in 1907 and from the early 1940s was a prominent leader of square dancing in New England. His earliest calling was in his home area south of Boston, Massachusetts with his own orchestra, the County Dance Serenaders. He directed and called the first TV square dance in Boston in 1950 and at the two largest indoor square dances ever held in New England with more than 300 squares at the Boston Garden in the early 1950s.

In the late 1940s he met Lawrence Loy, a gentleman from the West who was a professor at the University of Massachusetts, who was spreading the square dance experience in 4-H Clubs and Grange Halls. Working with Prof. Loy, Baldwin helped to form the earliest square dance caller association in New England, Old Colony Callers and Teachers Association. Charlie was one of the first to teach callers and he continued that teaching for many years. He started and directed, from 1951 to 1962, the New England Square Dance Camp, a seven day program held at Camp Becket in Western Massachusetts and he taught short courses for callers at several universities.

Working with other leaders including Al Brundage, Earl Davis and the Metcalfs, Clarence and Howard, in 1951 Charlie started and became the first editor of the New England Square Dance Caller magazine. The Caller became the chronicle of square dance clubs and events and grew from its modest 18 page beginning to an 80+ page magazine with monthly circulation of more than 9000. Charlie’s organizational leadership was instrumental in making square dancing the cooperative activity that it has become. Working with others Charlie helped to form caller and dancer organizations in New England and nationally as well. Organizations that he helped form include the Eastern District Square and Round Dance Association, The New England Council of Callers Associations, Legacy (a national square dance organization) and CALLERLAB, the International Organization of Square Dance Callers.

Charlie died in 1986. His many years of service to the square dance were recognized by numerous awards. In 1976 he and his wife Bertha received the Silver Spur Award, In 1980 Charlie was recognized by CALLERLAB with the Milestone Award and in 1981 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the American Square Dance Society. In 1982 Charlie and Bertha were recognized by the New England Square Dance Cooperation Committee with the Yankee Clipper Award. In 1992 the Square Dance Foundation of New England inducted them, posthumously, as the first in its Hall of Fame.

Charlie and Bertha were very aware of the importance of preserving history. They were leaders in the formation of the Square Dance Foundation of New England, one of the important repositories of square dance historical materials.

Charlie Baldwin’s personal papers were donated by the Square Dance Foundation of New England in 2010. They include correspondence with many of the best known leaders of square dancing and a full set of the New England Square Dance Caller magazine.

One Response to “Guide to the Charlie Baldwin Papers (Unprocessed)”

  1. Donald Chase Says:

    I remember Charlie coming to Sumner Jr. High School (Holbrook, Mass.) and teaching basic dancing for gym class in 1952. Janice Chandler was my partner and the song was Red River Valley. And 62 years later I am still dancing. Thank you CXharlie.