[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
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 former NEFFA board member and founding 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 1000 slides, 80 prints, 70 film, video and audio recordings, and a few posters and 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 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|
|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|
|“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|
|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|
|Boston Branch memos, bylaws, flyers, photographs, obituaries, publicity, etc. 1948-2006:
RSCDS North America directory, 1982
|“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