Guide to the Charles Francisco Collection, 1944-1997
Collection number: MC 296
About Charles Francisco (ca. 1920-1997)
Charles “Charlie” Francisco (ca. 1920-1997) was a folkdance leader especially active
during the 1940s-1960s in Buffalo, New York. His particular strength was in
Slavic/Baltic music and dance, but he also enjoyed contra dance, square dance,
Scottish country dancing, Morris dancing, and English dancing.
Born into a working class family in Buffalo around 1920, Francisco excelled in math
and chemistry. He was less than a month from graduating with his M.A. in chemistry
from Northwestern University when he was drafted into the US Military in 1944. He
worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where
he was exposed to the square dancing programs used to socialize new recruits. After
the war ended he was transferred to California. There he was particularly struck by
the well-organized Stockton Folk Dance scene. Upon his discharge in 1946 gained
employment as an industrial chemist in Tonawanda, NY.
In 1946 he co-founded the Buffalo Folk Dancers. Here he indexed and procured
recordings, taught folk dance, led a Morris-rapper team, brought international folk
dance teachers to Buffalo, collaborated with Buffalo’s International Institute,
started and co-ran a summer dance camp, and organized and participated in many
demonstrations and workshops. After 1964, he retired from these roles and focused
more on traveling for dance camps, including those in Maine, West Virginia,
Wisconsin, Texas, and beyond, as well as traveling extensively in Baltic Europe.
Francisco settled down in Buffalo for his later years until his death in 1997.
Francisco is notable for bridging cultural gaps between middle class Buffalo
residents and the early 20th century influx of Slavic and Baltic immigrants who came
to work in Bethlehem Steel and other large industries. His efforts and the life of
the immigrant communities were recognized in a 1992 exhibit and lecture series
entitled “Put On Your Dancing Shoes” (curated by folklorist Mia Boynton).
About the Charles Francisco Collection (1944-1997)
This collection consists of ca. 1500 78s, 45s, and 33 1/3 RPM records, as well as a
small amount of cassette tapes. It is housed with the archive’s main audio
collection and is fully searchable in the repository’s catalog.The collection is particularly strong in Baltic
and Slavic music produced in the United States and Europe. A through collection of
Western square dance repertoire, New England contra dance, English country dance,
and Morris dance repertoire is also included. Of particular note are the early Ralph
Page recordings on Moses Asch’s Disc New York label.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[Identification of item], Charles Francisco Collection, 1944-1997, MC 296, Milne
Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham,
Gift of the Estate of Charles Francisco, 1997
Non-audio materials have been separated pending further processing.
This collection is cataloged alphabetically with the New Hampshire Library of
Traditional Music and Dance audio collection. It is fully searchable in the repository’s catalog.