The Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) was officially incorporated in 1940, but the organization truly began when the United States Branch of the English Folk Dance Society – the predecessor of CDSS – first gathered in 1915, helped by Englishman Cecil Sharp, a musician who traveled in his own country and in the southern United States collecting folk dances and songs.
For almost 100 years CDSS has worked to preserve and promote traditional forms of English and American folk dance, music, and song. It sponsors numerous events (most notably, the annual Pinewoods (MA), Timber Ridge Camp (WV) and Ogontz (NH) summer camps), publishes books and recordings, prints a bi-monthly members’ newsletter, and operates a mail order business and a small store at its headquarters in Easthampton, Massachusetts. For many years it also functioned as a library and research center prior to transferring the bulk of its collections to the New Hampshire Library of Traditional Music and Dance.
The Country Dance and Song Society collection includes the CDSS Library – nearly 3,000 books, 400 periodicals, pamphlets and sheet music, and close to 2000 recordings (search for “CDSS” in the Collection Name field) — and the CDSS Archives – which contains 25 cubic feet of archival materials relating to the organization and its affiliates, as well as the personal papers of several individuals prominent in the study and teaching of Anglo-American folk dance and song.