Sheet music covers, some with complete or partial scores attached, with illustrations depicting various forms of social dancing or related subjects, such as historical or folk dancing from ballets, operas, and other theatrical productions. More than half date from the 1840s and 1850s; all except three date from the 19th century. Intended for home performance, the music was often arranged by musicians other than the original composers. The collection is arranged in five groups: Ballroom dancing, Polkas, Theatrical works, Folk and ethnic dancing, and Other.
Citation/reference: The favourite American polka, Chaffee, George, "American music prints of the Romantic ballet," Dance index, vol. I, no. 12, Dec. 1942, p. 207, cat. no. 60.
Biographical/historical: Josephine DeNatale Butler, 1911-1996, was a dance educator, historian, and author. She began her career in fashion design, but in 1936 she and her husband Albert Butler founded the Albert Butler School of Dance, which she directed for fifty years. They also collaborated on the monumental Encyclopedia of social dancing, versions of which first appeared in the late 1960s. In 1970 she created an archive of social dancing, encompassing print materials, moving images, and other memorabilia, at the Dance Collection (today known as the Jerome Robbins Dance Division) of New York Public Library. These music covers were among a collection of additional materials donated to the Library by her estate in 1996, selections from which appeared in the Library's exhibition Cotillion to cakewalk: social dance prints, presented from May 19-Sept. 13, 1997.
Exhibitions: Exhibited: "Cotillion to cakewalk: social dance prints," organized by New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, May 19-Sept. 13, 1997.
Acquisition: Gift; Estate of Josephine Butler.
Extent: 26 prints : chiefly lithograph, color and black and white ; 37 x 27 cm. or smaller