Guide to the Dance Cards

Collection Title: Dance Cards
Dates: 1903-1935, 1944-1949
Identification: 31/6/52
Creator: Dance Cards
Extent: 2 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: This collection consists of dance cards from events spanning the years 1903 - 1935. The majority of dance sponsors were fraternities and sororities. However, there are also dance cards from Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Prom in addition.
Note: Other Information:In the first decades of the twentieth century, formal dances comprised a significant component of the social life of Northwestern University students. Behavior at these formals followed relatively strict rules of etiquette. Gentlemen could solicit dances from any of the young ladies present; however, the young women were allowed the privilege to either accept or decline any solicitations they wish. Once a gentleman's request was accepted, however, the young lady had to honor her promise.To keep track of her engagements, the woman recorded the name of her promised partner in her dance card. These small booklets, usually attached to a cord she could wear on her wrist, listed the evening's scheduled program with a space next to each dance where the partner's name could be penciled in. The young men also carried dance cards.Although the dance cards served the practical purpose of reminding the dancers of their schedule, they were also a decorative souvenir of the event. The covers were fabricated from paper, cardboard, leatherette, wood, metal, or celluloid. Hand-decorated or printed, embossed or otherwise embellished with the logo of the organization, the cards reflect the prevailing styles of the era. Although the cards very seldom show the names of the women who carried them, they furnish usefu1 information about student activities and dance trends and document a social form that endured over the course of several decades.
Acquisition Information: This collection is comprised of four accessions: a collection of dance cards transferred from the Evanston Historical Society as part of Accession #99-60 in March 1999; dance cards boxed as Accession #74-30, from the University Archives' holdings; dance cards were separated from Accession #06-173 in November, 2006; and dance cards were separated from Accession #07-85, which was transferred to the University Archives by the Northwestern University Alumni Association on July 16, 2007.
Processing Information: Kate Mazurek, May 11, 1999.
Separated Materials: A few items and cards not related to Northwestern University events were separated and returned to the Evanston Historical Society.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

In the first decades of the twentieth century, formal dances comprised a significant component of the social life of Northwestern University students. Behavior at these formals followed relatively strict rules of etiquette. Gentlemen could solicit dances from any of the young ladies present; however, the young women were allowed the privilege to either accept or decline any solicitations they wish. Once a gentleman’s request was accepted, however, the young lady had to honor her promise.

To keep track of her engagements, the woman recorded the name of her promised partner in her dance card. These small booklets, usually attached to a cord she could wear on her wrist, listed the evening's scheduled program with a space next to each dance where the partner's name could be penciled in. The young men also carried dance cards.

Although the dance cards served the practical purpose of reminding the dancers of their schedule, they were also a decorative souvenir of the event. The covers were fabricated from paper, cardboard, leatherette, wood, metal, or celluloid. Hand-decorated or printed, embossed or otherwise embellished with the logo of the organization, the cards reflect the prevailing styles of the era. Although the cards very seldom show the names of the women who carried them, they furnish useful information about student activities and dance trends and document a social form that endured over the course of several decades.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of dance cards from events spanning the years 1903 - 1935. The majority of dance sponsors were fraternities and sororities. However, there are also dance cards from Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Prom in addition. There are a few duplications of events.

The cards show the name of the organization, the date and location of the dance. Some cards list the dances by name, while others provide just the number of each dance. Other information revealed by the cards includes mottoes, song lyrics, and names of committee members. Most of the cards have retained their cords, but only one or two still have their pencils attached.

Oversize dance cards are contained in a separate folder on top of the cards in Box 2. This folder also contains a small card, apparently used by dance chaperones, to discreetly distribute to immodest dancers as a warning.

Arrangement of Materials

The cards are separated according to the sponsor student organization for a given dance. The organizations are then arranged alphabetically and for each separate organization the dance cards are arranged chronologically. If only one card exists for a particular event, it is filed in the general file for that letter of the alphabet.

Subjects

Personal Name

Putnam, Karl F. (Karl Fredric), 1879-1960

Subjects

College students--Illinois--Evanston--Social life and customs

College students--Illinois--Evanston--Societies and clubs

Dance cards

Student activities--Illinois--Evanston


Container List / Contents

  • InventoryBox 1, Cardfile 1
  • A: General, 1908-1933, 1948Box 1, Cardfile 2
  • Alpha Chi Omega, 1909-1912Box 1, Cardfile 3
  • Alpha Delta Pi, 1948-1949Box 1, Cardfile 4
  • Athletics, 1912, n.d.Box 1, Cardfile 5
  • Beta Phi Delta, 1909-1913Box 1, Cardfile 6
  • Chapin, 1911Box 1, Cardfile 7
  • Chi Omega, 1904-1933, n.d.Box 1, Cardfile 8
  • Commerce Club, 1933-1935Box 1, Cardfile 9
  • Delta Delta Delta, 1910Box 1, Cardfile 10
  • Delta Gamma, 1909-1911Box 1, Cardfile 11
  • Delta Kappa Phi, 1903-1912Box 1, Cardfile 12
  • Delta Sigma Delta, 1914Box 1, Cardfile 13
  • Delta Sigma Phi, 1909-1911Box 1, Cardfile 14
  • Delta Tau Delta, 1909-1921, n.d.Box 1, Cardfile 15
  • Delta Upsilon, 1946-1949Box 1, Cardfile 16
  • Eclectic Ball, 1910Box 1, Cardfile 17
  • Holiday, 1909-1934Box 1, Cardfile 18
  • I: General, 1911, 1917Box 1, Cardfile 19
  • Oversize cards, 1910-1911, 1944, n.d.Box 2, Cardfile 41
  • Junior Prom, 1910-1920Box 2, Cardfile 20
  • Kappa Alpha Theta, 1908Box 2, Cardfile 21
  • Kappa Delta, 1908-1911Box 2, Cardfile 22
  • Kappa Kappa Gamma, 1909Box 2, Cardfile 23
  • McKinlock Campus Prom, 1934Box 2, Cardfile 24
  • Military Ball, 1923-1931, 1948Box 2, Cardfile 25
  • Naval ROTC and V-12, 1946Box 2, Cardfile 26
  • Neatawhanta, 1908Box 2, Cardfile 27
  • P: General, 1908-1929Box 2, Cardfile 28
  • Phi Alpha Delta, 1911-1912Box 2, Cardfile 29
  • Phi Delta Theta, 1908-1910Box 2, Cardfile 30
  • Phi Mu Delta, 1923-1925Box 2, Cardfile 31
  • Pi Beta Phi, 1919-1921Box 2, Cardfile 32
  • S: General, 1913-1919, 1948Box 2, Cardfile 33
  • Senior Prom, 1912-1935Box 2, Cardfile 34
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 1910-1911Box 2, Cardfile 35
  • Sigma Chi, 1911-1912Box 2, Cardfile 36
  • Sophomore Hop, 1919-1922Box 2, Cardfile 37
  • Teddy Bear Club, 1909-1910Box 2, Cardfile 38
  • Utopia Club, 1910Box 2, Cardfile 39
  • Zeta Pi Sigma, n.d.Box 2, Cardfile 40