Voices of the Jazz Era Ballroom

Voices of the Jazz Era Ballroom is a grassroots, web-based oral history project devoted to preserving and passing on the memory of dance in the Jazz era through the lives and words of everyday people. This is your story—please contribute by talking with a parent or grandparent, neighbor, or friend and explore the archive to see how others have shared their stories.

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From the Ted Younger collection

A publicity still of Ted Younger's parents, part of a vaudeville act in the early 1920's which involved dancing and posing in marble-statue costumes. The whole Younger family including Ted worked many vaudeville circuits as "The Grant Family," an act…

From the Ted Younger collection

A publicity still of Ted Younger's parents, part of a vaudeville act in the early 1920's which involved dancing and posing in marble-statue costumes. The whole Younger family including Ted worked many vaudeville circuits as "The Grant Family," an act…

From the Donald Russ collection

An ad for the "senior miss" line from a clothing boutique in Grand Rapids taken from Donald Russ' 1926 South High School Yearbook. For the collegiate who is at it "from early morn to charleston by-the-clock" they boast "just the smart, boyish or…

From the Donald Russ collection

A furniture company ad from the back of Donald Russ' 1926 South High School Yearbook. Clearly aimed at parents, the ad suggests that the only way to keep youth away from the dangers of "the silver flask and the jazz orchestra" is to furnish your home…

From the Donald Russ collection

A description of curious junk band, "Boon's Melody Bloodhounds" at the the Marema Dance Pavilion in the "favorite places" section of Donald Russ' 1926 South High School Yearbook. The names of several of the musicians can be paired with students…

From the Donald Russ collection

Several students pose in a chorus line formation outside of South High School, Grand Rapids, MI. Photo taken from the 1926 yearbook of Donald Russ.

From the Donald Russ collection

Two Students Dance the Charleston outside of South High School, Grand Rapids, MI. Photo taken from the 1926 yearbook of Donald Russ.

From the Dorothy Porter collection

Dorothy Porter in her point shoes (which she eventually learned to tap dance in upon insistence of her dance teacher. Dorothy describes her experiences of Mrs. Mansfield's dance classes, learning ballet and tap in her oral history video. Here she is…

From the Dorothy Porter collection

A young Dorothy Porter in costume before a dance recital. Dorothy describes her experiences of Mrs. Mansfield's dance classes, learning ballet and tap in her oral history video. Here she seems to be outfitted in historical garb and as a clown. She…

From the Dorothy Porter collection

A young Dorothy Porter in costume before a dance recital. Dorothy describes her experiences of Mrs. Mansfield's dance classes, learning ballet and tap in her oral history video. Here she seems to be outfitted as a bellhop and a pirate. She was forced…

From the Dorothy Porter collection

A young Dorothy Porter in costume before a dance recital. Dorothy describes her experiences of Mrs. Mansfield's dance classes, learning ballet and tap in her oral history video. She was forced to give up lessons when the Great Depression hit.