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Central Dance Association Records

Identifier: Series-0504

Content Information

The Central Dance Association Records is divided into four series – Administrative, Ephemera, Publications, and Scrapbook. There is no chronological overlap among the Administrative, Publications and Scrapbook series as each encompasses different decades. The Series are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically within the series.

The Administrative series includes the bulk of the collection with correspondence, financial records and ephemera that cover the period 1935-1945. Correspondence is in the form of letters and telegrams primarily concerning negotiations and arrangements with booking agencies and details of organizing and promoting CDA events with CDA members. Major correspondents include Tom E. Stanley and James C. Littlejohn of Clemson’s Business Office and representatives of booking agencies including Mills Artists Inc., Charles Shribman Orchestras Inc., Price-Fowler Attractions, Rockwell-O’Keefe Inc., Ted Moore, and Music Corporation of America. Performers mentioned include Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Jimmie Cannon and His Orchestra, Larry Clinton and His Orchestra, Jimmy Lunceford, Charlie Woods Orchestra, Will Osborne Orchestra, Clemson College Jungaleers and groups from other southeastern colleges. Of note is a small amount of correspondence discussing the difficulties of bringing black musicians to a Southern college in the 1930s. There is some promotional material in the form of flyers and photographs from the booking agencies, including for bands that didn’t play at Clemson. Financial records include lists of expenses; payments made, including to maids and chaperones; and a few contracts. There are a few financial records from the 1943-44 ROTC Dance Committee.

The Ephemera series contains a 1935 dance ticket signed on the back in pencil by performers Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard and three dance invitations from 1944-1945.

The Publications series contains four issues of The Vine, a 1-2 page newspaper published by the Central Dance Association with articles about music, dances and campus events. Performers mentioned include Mitch Ryder, the Platters, Ruby and the Romantics and Ike and Tina Turner. Issues are: 20 October 1967 (Vol. 1, No. 1), 2 November 1967 (Vol. 1, No. 2), 29 January 1968 (Vol. 1, No. 3) and 28 September 1970 (Vol. 4, No. 1).

The Scrapbook series contains two scrapbooks kept by the Central Dance Association – one from 1949-50 and one from 1954-55. The 1949-50 scrapbook is photocopies of scrapbook pages with newspaper clippings, primarily from The Tiger student newspaper, about Central Dance Association events and some CDA memorabilia. There are 4 original dance tickets and one photograph of Harry James. The 1954-55 scrapbook has two pages with signatures of performers, a poster advertising Mid-Winters Ball featuring Erskine Hawkins, 17-18 February [1950], and 25 photographs (removed to manuscript box). The photographs include Central Dance Association members and dances, as well as signed photographs by Elliott Lawrence, Sam Donahue of the Billy Ray Orchestra, “Cat” Anderson of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Duke Ellington.


  • 1935 - 1970


Use Restrictions

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Biographical / Historical

In the early years of Clemson College, various organizations such as the German Club, Cotillion Club and class Dance Clubs held formal and informal dances, one of the most popular extracurricular activities on the all-male campus. The Central Dance Association (CDA) was formed in 1932 to supervise, advise and assist the organizations that were holding dances. The CDA exclusively held financial responsibility so that no one particular individual or group profited more than another from ticket sales and also to keep ticket prices more standardized. The result was better organized dances with more popular bands and lower ticket prices.

Within a few years, the CDA was arranging a dozen dance weekends per year. They usually included Freshman Hop, Athletic Ball, Military Ball, Mid Winters, Taps Ball and Ring Dance. A typical dance weekend include a Friday evening formal dance, a Saturday afternoon tea dance and a Saturday evening informal dance. Musical groups ranged from nationally known orchestras, usually booked through New York based agencies, to local bands, groups from other colleges or Clemson’s Jungaleers dance band. Cadets’ dates who didn’t live locally stayed in campus buildings or with local families for the weekends. The CDA paid for chaperones, maids and janitors for the events.

The college’s Business Office supervised the CDA’s finances and provided overall continuity due to changing student membership. From 1943–1944, the CDA mostly was inactive while an ROTC Dance Committee planned several dances. The size of the CDA ranged from a half dozen cadets in the beginning to two dozen by the mid-1950s, with a smaller Senior Staff who planned and supervised events and a larger Junior Staff who did the active work. At the end of each year, approximately half the Junior Staff were selected to be Senior Staff for the next year. Benefits of CDA membership included reciprocal complimentary tickets to dances at other schools such as Davidson College and NC State College.

Into the 1960s, the CDA increasingly brought nationally popular groups to campus, including a number of Motown performers. In addition to dances, the CDA sponsored concerts and other entertainment, such as the 1969 Bob Hope show at Littlejohn Coliseum. The CDA began experiencing financial trouble in the 1970s as booking bands became more complicated, competitive and expensive; there was increased competition from other social activities; and students had more varied musical tastes. In addition, the group encountered trouble with the University administration after there were arrests for alcohol or drug violations at several CDA sponsored concerts.

In 1976 and early 1977, the CDA experienced back to back major financial losses due to issues with concert promoters. In October 1977, the student body president issued a proposal to revoke the charter of the already defunct Central Dance Association noting that concert planning responsibility had already been taken over by the Central Dance and Concert Committee (CDCC), one of several committees under and supported by the University Union.


1.12 Cubic Feet (2 boxes; 1 folder)

Language of Materials



The Central Dance Association (CDA) records are valuable for researching one of the major student organizations at Clemson from 1932 into the 1970s. Before 1955, during Clemson’s all-male military era, the CDA sponsored up to a dozen dance weekends per year for cadets and their dates. Music was provided by locally, regionally and occasionally nationally famous bands and orchestras. After 1955, the group gradually offered fewer dances but prioritized bringing nationally popular musical groups to Clemson, including a number of Motown performers in the 1960s. The CDA was dissolved in 1977 after several years of declining interest and a series of financial losses.

The bulk of the Central Dance Association Records is correspondence and financial records that cover the period 1935-1945. Correspondence is in the form of letters and telegrams primarily with booking agencies and some performers concerning negotiations and arrangements for providing music for dance weekends. There is also correspondence between CDA members and advisors concerning details of organizing and promoting the events. Financial records include lists of expenses, payments made and a few performers’ contracts. The collection also includes ephemera in the form of tickets and invitations, four issues of a promotional newspaper, and two scrapbooks.


By series.

Acquisition Source

Recieved from James B. Cooper in 1989, accession number unknown; Mary Katherine Littlejohn; George U. Bennett, accession #05-004; unidentified donor, 1989, accession #89-054; unidentified donor, 1990, accession #90-138

Related Materials

Additional information about the Central Dance Association, as well as information about the years not covered in this collection and about college dances before the CDA began in 1932, can be found in The Tiger student newspapers and Taps yearbooks. Some information about the organizations which followed the Central Dance Association can be found in Series 69 - Student Government and Series 349 - Student Affairs, particularly under University Union.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Susan G. Hiott in 2020

  • Discarded financial records - receipt books, invoices
A Guide to the Central Dance Association Records, 1935-1970
In Progress
Susan Hiott
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Clemson University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Repository

230 Kappa St.
Clemson SC 29634 U.S.A. US