Monday, November 17, 2014

Archives Display: Dance Cards

Many people are familiar with the phrase “my dance card is full” however there was a time when this expression could be used literally. In the past, dance cards were a fixture at formal dances at St. Kate’s and other academic institutions. The November display features a selection of dance cards from St. Kate’s Archives, as well as photos and documents related to these dances.

Dance cards from St. Kate's Archives
Not only did dance cards provide a place for students to record the names of their dance partners, they also functioned as a program for the evening’s entertainment. Information on the cards included the name of the band playing, a list of planning committee members and chaperones, and occasionally a menu (as seen on the dance card on display from St. Kate’s 1939 Junior Prom).

Several dances were held every year, each one sponsored by a different club or planning committee. These events were formal in nature and often centered around a carefully selected theme. For example, the drama club, known as the Laboratory Players, sponsored the Fall Formal Dance in 1964. The theme they selected was “On Broadway.” Documents on display from the Archives show that the club planned to decorate using a theatre marquis, with street lights and park benches, which they planned to borrow from the city of St. Paul.

The dance cards will be on display during the month of November on the main level of the St. Paul Library, in the case in front of the video carrels.

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