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Dances and Recreation records

Identifier: CA-MS-00109

Scope and Contents

Information found in the files is incomplete and contains mostly photographs, dance cards and invitations. Information about the Supper Dance can be derived from the many press releases about the event.

Dates of Materials

  • 1881 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

The tradition of dances and recreation at Smith is longstanding. From social gatherings, teas, and parties in the 1880s and 1890s, to the hosting of "Supper Dance" Weekend from the 1920s through the 1940s, to the present day traditions of Friday Teas, Winter Weekend, Spring Weekend and Rugby Prom, Smith has seen its fair share of parties.

While much of the information regarding the gatherings cannot be found in the folders, many of the photographs tell their own stories.

There is a plethora of information about the Supper Dance. Preceded by 'walk arounds" in the 1880s, when the Glee Club was founded in 1888, it hosted a yearly spring concert, which gradually evolved into Spring Dance and Supper Dance. Organized by a student committee, the dance was open to the entire college, with each house hosting its own dance and hired bands. Because Smith women are "unusually smart as well as unusually attractive, and . . . their hospitality is rightly famous" according to an article for LIFE magazine, the Supper dance was unusually popular and especially well anticipated by male guests. As their hosts, Smithies paid for their weekend and were allowed to cut in on couples and choose their dance partners. The weekend consisted of Friday classes, dancing lasting the greater part of Saturday with a break for dinner, and Sunday activities. The dance was so famous as to attract photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt of LIFE magazine to take pictures for an article about the Supper Dance in 1937. The Supper Dance continued until the 1940s, probably when wartime took its toll.


0.438 linear feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



The files contain mostly photographs, dance cards and invitations. Some photographs can tell their own story such as with the "Superdance USA" of 1981, with its succession of 4 photographs. Information about the Supper Dance can be derived from the many press releases about the event.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown

Related Material

Related Materials include other social events, such as Class Suppers, Junior and Senior Proms, are documented in the specific class records found in 80. Students/Class Records.

Processing Information

Processed by Christine Merrill.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Dances and Recreation records
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Christine Merrill
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca109 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-11: Updated to conform to DACS and added boxes

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063