Guide to the James Kennedy Collection on the Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-2002
Collection number: MC 281
About the Fitzwilliam Square Dance
The Fitzwilliam Square Dance began in the late 1960s as a resurrection of a long
tradition of dancing in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, which dated back to the colonial
era. The dance series was organized by James "Jim" Kennedy (?-2006), who was in
charge of musicians, financials, hall rental, and keeping the dance on good terms
with the town and its residents. Initially the Fitzwilliam dances ran nearly weekly
during the summer with Duke Miller as caller; later fall and winter dances were held
with caller Dudley Laufman (b. 1923). Callers Tony Parkes and Tod Whittimore
received their professional start from the stage of the Fitzwilliam town hall. The
dance quickly became very popular and was nearly always packed. Despite this, the
dance often struggled financially, and matters were not helped by often tense
relations with the town.
There was often tension between older Fitzwilliam town residents and the younger less
formal dancers (especially those who were followers of Dudley Laufman's calling).
Extensive correspondance, photographs, and newspaper clippings document complaints
related to the informal clothing of the younger dancers, most notably over the issue
of bare feet. Another contention was whether dances could be held on Sunday. When
one Columbus Day forced the normal Saturday night dance to be held on a Sunday
night, Fitzwilliam selectman denied the use of the hall and the dance was held in
Troy, NH, amidst a flurry of press coverage.
The popularity of the Fitzwilliam Square Dance waned after Duke Miller fell ill in
the late 1970s, and in 1980 and 1981 only one annual reunion dance was held each
year in the hall. Duke Miller died later that year, and it wasn't until 2013 that a
yearly reunion dance series was started by caller Tod Whittimore.
About the James Kennedy Collection on the Fitzwilliam Square Dance
The collection consists of the publicity, financial, and personnel negotiations which
James 'Jim' Kennedy conducted to organize the Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-1980,
and the financial paperwork related to closing the Fitzwilliam Square Dance bank
account in 2002. Extensive correspondence involves Duke Miller, Dudley Laufman, Tod
Whittimore, Tony Parkes, Bob McQuillen, George Hodgson, the Canterbury Country Dance
Orchestra, and many others who played/called for the dance over the years. Photos of
dancers, newspaper clippings, posters, and letters document both the dance community
and its interactions with the town of Fitzwilliam. Five audio cassettes include the
calling of Duke Miller during the late 1960s and mid 1970s.
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], The Fitzwilliam Square Dance, 1969-2002, MC 281, Milne
Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham,
Gift of the family in memory of James H. Kennedy, 2012
Audio material is stored with the repository's audio/visual materials.
Arrangement is chronological.
|Dance Papers, 1969-1973
Includes folders devoted to accounts, publicity, fundraising (including a
list of 'patrons'), winter square dances, the 1972 Fitzwilliam Ski Area
Concert with the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra, advertising, and the
1973 festival of the Pinewoods Morris Men dancing on the Fitzwilliam town
|Dance Papers, 1973-1980 and 2002
Includes planning for the Dec. 29 1973 dance called by Duke Miller, photos of
the 1974 dances amidst controversy surrounding dress code, the Fitzwilliam
Square Dancers group with performed at the 1976 Canajoharie NY Peach Blossom
Festival at the invitation of Duke Miller, and difficult relationships with
the town and younger dancers. The last folder, dated 2002, documents the
closing of the Fitzwilliam Square Dance bank account and subsequent donation
of the funds to a dance community member whose house had burned that