Guide to the Charles Baldwin Collection, 1940-1986
Collection number: MC 291
(3 Boxes )
About Charles H. Baldwin (1907-1986)
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. He also directed
and called 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 and a professor at
the University of Massachusetts, who was spreading the square dance experience in
4-H Clubs and Grange Halls. Working with Professor 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. Charlie worked with others to form caller
and dancer organizations in New England and nationally. 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
Charlie died in 1986. His many years of service to 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.
1924 : Begins dancing – popular styles include Plain Quadrilles
1940 : Begins calling in Norwell, MA. By this time western square
dancing has begun to separate in style and culture from traditional New England
1943 : Ca. 1943-1945 volunteers rehabilitating wounded soldiers
through square dancing, Camp Edwards, MA. Later expands to work in VA hospitals
for individuals with war-induced trauma and traumatic brain injuries.
1950 : Directs and calls first TV performance of square dancing in
1950 : Directed and called the two largest indoor square dances
ever held in New England: Boston Garden in April (300 squares, 8000 spectators)
and May (325 squares, 2500 spectators).
1950 : Establishes annual callers classes which continue until
1972, from Maine to Florida.
1951 : Starts the highly circulated New England Square Dance
Caller magazine, serves as editor until his death in 1986. Circulation grows to
over 9000 copies per month.
1951 : Assumes directorship of the New England Square and Round
Dance Camp at Camp Becket in Becket MA. Remains director until 1962.
1953 : Ca. 1953 founds and directs his own square dance orchestra,
the Country Dance Serenades. Continues to direct the group for 14 years.
1956 : Participates in first Short Course for Callers, Florida
1956 : Becomes one of the first callers to conduct national square
dance calling tours ca. 1956. These continue until 1967, when Baldwin chooses to
focus his efforts on New England.
1961 : Begins to call in Maritime Canada.
1969 : Spends 16 days in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, teaching square
dance to US military and their families.
1971 : National organization CALLERLAB founded by Bob Osgood;
Baldwin is an early member.
1973 : Founds the Square Dance Foundation of New England.
1976 : Presented with the Silver Spur Award by the American Square
Dance Society and Sets In Order. Other awards include the Yankee Clipper Award
and induction into the Square Dance Hall of Fame.
1980 : Charlie Baldwin receives the American Square Dance
Society’s highest honor, the Milestone Award, to celebrate 40 years of calling.
1982 : Charlie and Bertha Baldwin awarded the Yankee Clipper
1986 : Dies at his home in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1992 : Charlie and Bertha Baldwin posthumously inducted into the
Square Dance Hall of Fame.
About the Charles Baldwin Papers
The Charles Baldwin Papers consist of extensive correspondence, dance notation, some
historical materials, and paperwork from running the New England Square and Round
Dance Camp at Camp Becket, MA. The highlight is ca. 1500 letters to and from every
well-known (and many lesser known!) callers and dancers across the country. For
photos and memorabilia, see MC 270 (Square Dance Foundation of New England), Boxes
This collection is open.
This collection is housed in the Library Storage Building; access requires 48
hours notice. Please contact the Special Collections staff prior to visiting the
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
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[Identification of item], Charles Baldwin Papers, 1940-1986, MC 291, Milne
Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham,
Gift of the Square Dance Foundation of New England, 2011
Donated to the archives of the Square Dance Foundation of New England (SDFNE) in
1986. Kept as a separate, unprocessed collection until its donation to Milne
Special Collections and Archives in 2011.
MC 270 Square Dance Foundation of New England Collection, Milne Special Collections
Approximately 4 folders of newspaper clippings were separated and discarded for
Two boxes of Charles Baldwin Materials are kept with MC 270 the Square Dance
Foundation of New England Collection (Boxes 13-14). These contain photographs and
Collection is in order in which it was received.
This box consists of 45 neatly indexed steno pads of outgoing
correspondence. The indexes are the rear of each pad. Included also in
the box are several folders of loose correspondence and
|Calling Logs, Syllabi, and Festival Materials,
Baldwin’s calling logs indicate what dances he called for which groups
over a period of decades. The syllabi are divided into camps which
Baldwin directed/taught and those where he was an attender; included are
the New England Square and Round Dance Camp (Camp Becket, MA), many
camps run by Ralph Page, Al Brundage, and Reuben Merchant. A small
amount of festival material includes National Folk Festivals, NEFFA, and
other festivals where Baldwin emceed.
|New England Square Dance Caller, Camp Becket, and History,
Extensive correspondence regarding the editing and submissions to the New
England Square Dance Caller begins in 1951, including lively and
colorful exchanges with Ralph Page over dance styles and history. Camp
Becket materials consist primarily of organizational notes, camper
lists, and Bow And Balance (BNB) newsletters from 1953-1961. (For Camp
Becket syllabi see Box 2.) Several folders of historical material
includes an old NEFFA poster and photocopies of 19th century dance
manuals from New England.