[In storage - requires 48 hour notice for use]
5 boxes (5 cubic ft.)
Acquisition: Donation, Jean D. Spence, Reading MA (accession number: 2011.03)
Partially processed: Emeline Dehn-Reynolds, April 2014; revised by Roland Goodbody, Sept 2014
About Ernie Spence
Born in 1925, Ernie Spence grew up in Milton, MA. After graduating from Milton High School, he enlisted in the US Navy AirCorp where he served from 1943 to 1946 as an Aviation Ordinanceman Second Class. He attended Boston University, graduating in 1950 with a BS in Education and in 1951 with an M.Ed. While at school, he met Joan Harlan and they were married in 1952. In 1954, they moved to Reading, MA where three years earlier Ernie had begun his 35-year career in the Reading School system, teaching science at Parker Junior High. In 1957, he became the first principal of the newly opened Birch Meadow Elementary School, and in 1960 he became an assistant principal at Reading Memorial High School, where he remained until his retirement in 1986.
From the time he met Duke Miller in the late 1940s at Sargent Camp in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, Ernie became a fixture on dance floors all over New England. He and Joan made regular trips from the Boston area on weekends to dance to Duke’s calling in Fitzwilliam, NH. Many dancers, callers, and musicians credit Ernie with introducing them to contra dancing.
In his later years, Parkinson’s disease forced Ernie to cut back his dancing to just one or two nights a week. Even though his mobility then limited him to a much smaller space on the dance floor, Ernie was still among the best dancers to be found, never at a loss for a partner. David Millstone, a caller and dance historian, said of Ernie: “I loved watching his graceful carriage, his exquisite timing, the attentive smile bestowed on his partners, and the omnipresent twinkle in his eye.” Ernie died aged 85 in March 2011.
Ernie Spence was a NEFFA executive board member from 1977-1984 and a founder member of the Thursday Night Dance Committee. He was also an avid photographer and took hundreds of images of dances over the years. His collection, which includes over 1000 slides, 80 prints, film and video material, as well as nearly 200 audio recordings (enter “Ernie Spence” in the Collection Name box), as well as paper materials, including NEFFA Executive Board minutes, posters, flyers, dance periodicals, was donated to the University of New Hampshire in 2011.
About the Ernie Spence Papers
The collection, which has been minimally processed, consists of various organizational materials relating to Ernie Spence’s service on the board of NEFFA and the Boston Branch of the RSCDS, including by-laws, minutes, event materials, such as the annual Highland Ball, publications and recordings. The arrangement described below reflects the current contents of the boxes and is not intended as a final organization.
|Miscellaneous papers, photographs, correspondence, dance notation|
|f.1||Correspondence from: Florence Block, 1972 (1); Larry Jennings, undated (1); James Kennedy (includes press release announcing the 1974 debut in Fitzwilliam of “promising young caller” Tony Parkes), 1971-1974 (3); Mel King, director, South End House, Boston, 1961 (1); Dudley Laufman, 1978-2003 (3); Kathie Leitz, 1975 (1); Duke Miller, 1960-1970 (6); Robin Tranove, 1970 (1); Ed Wilfert, 1971 (1); Gene and Betsy –?, Westborough MA 1969 (1)|
|f.2||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1977|
|f.3||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1978|
|f.4||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1979|
|f.5||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1980|
|f.6||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1981|
|f.7||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1982|
|f.8||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1983|
|f.9||NEFFA Executive Board minutes, 1984|
|Photocopy of article from Cape Breton’s Magazine, “With Winston Scotty Fitzgerald.”|
|Dance Gypsy 1998 Dance Planner|
|Paper: “Self-Test: Contradance Dependency Syndrome.”|
|Issues of N.O.B.C.A. Callers Clipboard: Vol. 2, Nos. 4-8 (1976)|
|Dance calling flier: Connie and Marianne Taylor|
|“Heritage Dancers from the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire”|
|CDS Ballot, 1976|
|f. 12||Paper: “Adventures in a Dance Hall: A Study of Contra Dancing Using Ethnographic Research Methods,” by Maggie Linnell, 1991|
|NECCA (New England Council of Caller’s Associations) 1970 Directory|
|Boston Branch memos, bylaws, flyers, photographs, obituaries, publicity, etc. 1948-2006:
RSCDS North America directory, 1982
|NEFFA 1978-1984: morris dancing; contra dancing; sword dancing; socializing; vendors; court dancing; jam sessions; Vermont contra demonstration; Irish dancing; exhibits; Balkan singers; clogging; Western square dancing|
|Tray No. 1: Country Dancing. Peterborough Country Club, NH 1955; Duke Miller (caller), Aug 1967; Francestown NH, 9/7/1970; Fitzwilliam NH, 8/28/1971; 11/6/1971; 6/3/1972; 12/2/1972; 8/3/1973; 9/1/1973; 12/1977; 9/3/1977 (Tod Whittemore, caller); Dudley Laufman, caller, 11/7/1973; news articles 1973; Carlisle Dance 5/3/74; Nelson NH 5/1976; Monadnock Dancers at Peach Blossom Festival (Canajoharie, NY.) 1976; Duke Miller, caller; Common Ground 1976; Dublin NH, 3/19/1977|
|Tray No. 2: Country Dancing. Peterborough NH 10/4/80; Nelson NH, 1/7/1978 (Kathy Torrey, caller); CDS dance Brookline 1/1978; Harrisville NH 1/1978; unidentified wedding 5/20/1978; Tod Whittemore Halloween/birthday party dance 1980|
|Tray No. 3: Country Dancing. CDS Brookline 1/1978; Fitzwilliam NH, 3/31/1978; 8/1978; 8/26/1978; 9/2/1978; 9/16/1978; Concord NH 3/31/1978; Needham MA: Whittemore Halloween party 10/30/1978; Fitzwilliam NH, Kathy & Ed Kennedy wedding 9/16/78; Nelson NH, 3/3/1979; YWCA Cambridge MA, 4/12/1978; Bob McQuillen birthday party 7/1979; unidentified dance 6/17/1979; cotillion 12/15/1979|
|Tray No. 4: Country Dancing. Brattleboro VT, 11/1/1981 (Dudley Laufman, caller); Peterboro NH 2/6/1982 (Tod Whittemore, caller); NEFFA Festival 4/1977; 4/1978; 4/1980; 4/1981; 4/1983; Jaffrey Center NH, 5/20/1978|
|Tray No. 5: Country Dancing. Cotillion – Halloween – Northfield MA; Northfield MA 6/18/82 (Four Gone Conclusions, Kammy Kaynor, caller) – Halloween dance 1982; NEFFA 1983; NEFFA? 1984; unidentified dance 12/1983|
|Tray No. 6: Country Dancing. Boat Dances. Unidentified boat dance 1980 – Boat dance 1981 (Tod Whittemore, caller) – Boat dance 1982 – CDS Dance Brookline 1/1978 – Peterboro, NH 11/7/1981 – Unidentified dance 6/1982, 7/1983, 10/4/1984 ,12/1986 – Unidentified function 5/1979, 10/1980 -Slide Carousel: “Tray No. 7: Country Dancing. Chestnuts”. Unidentified dance 1/1982, 5/21/1983 (outdoors), 7/1983 (outdoors), 5/1984, 10/1985, 11/1985 – Dover NH? 5/1986 - VFW Skyline Dancers 11/11/1982 – New England Chestnuts Cambridge River Festival MA 5/30/1981 -Undated color photograph of Ernie etc. dancing at formal dance -Kodak slide box marked “Tod”: School – Family – Church photos 1985 3 -Unlabeled box of slides. Yankee Ingenuity, Childsplay 1985 – 1988 – Northfield MA 6/18/82 – Peterboro NH 10/4/1980 – Fitzwilliam NH 4/3/1977, 12/30/1977 – Jack O’Conner 50th birthday dance 5/13/88 – Brattleboro VT Dawn Dance 5/30/84 – Harvey Tolman on fiddle 1978 – Nelson NH 3/1979 – Unidentified dance 6/17/1979 – Cotillion 12/1988|
|“Old New England” (Bob McQuillen, Jane Orzechowski and Deanna Stiles), 1996. Inscribed to Ernie by all three musicians|
|Duke Miller, Fitzwilliam Sept 3, 1977 Tape 3. “Tamara’s Golden (Ernie’s) Skater’s Delight.” Side 2 “Country Corners,” soundtrack|
|Tod Whittemore, July 3, 2004|
|Spence Reunion Tape 2, 2003; Peterboro Contra Ball, .|
Raw Footage of an interview at Lexington Public Library with Bicky McLain, Ethel Capps and Ann Wright, July 31, 1998.
Subjects are set running; the three interviewees; Mary Newton; WWII; footwork; Frank Smithy; M.G. Carsnel; Louanne Lexs; George; Marguerite Bidstrup; music; callers; tempo, Lloyd Shaw; gender; buck dance; standardizing vs. adaptation; drinking; singing games play party; calling; new leaders; John Mansfield
|Interviews and scenic views, Sept 12, 1992; Jennifer Ramsay recital, Dec 4, 1992. Joe Begley interview. Billy Joe Bates interview. John Mansfield interview with Ruby and Clifton Caudill|
8 undated (1977-1979?)posters for the Fitzwilliam, N.H. dance – Duke Miller, caller; Bob McQuillen, Peter Barnes, Rod & Randy Miller, Cammy Kaynor, musicians