Research Folk Dances in the Lawton Harris Collection at the University of the Pacific Library 

From the beginning, Folk Dance Camp has focused on the scholarly aspects of dance in addition to the dancing itself. Folk Dance Camp Founder Lawton Harris arranged for a late-morning discussion session at the camp in 1948 to consider such topics as the proper music and its relationship to our instruction in folk dances, the national characteristics of music, costuming, teaching techniques and trends in the folk dance movement. After lunch, a free period was set aside to browse the large collection of books being gathered to assist folk dance teachers. (From "California Folk Dance Camp" in the June 1948 issue of Let's Dance! magazine). 

This collection of books was comprised largely, if not entirely, of books owned by Lawton. The books, plus dance descriptions and other material in Lawton's collection, were made available to campers in G202, a small room in the Gym, until 1953. When Lawton died in 1967, he left some 6,000 folk dance records, approximately 4,000 dance descriptions, and many books and printed material about folk dancing. His wife Sally gave the entire collection to the Folk Dance Committee, which decided to turn it over to the Special Collections Unit of the University's Library, provided the collection would be:

  1. Kept intact under the title Lawton Harris Collection of Folk Dance Materials.
  2. Administrated by a committee of University Library and Folk Dance Committee members.
  3. Limited to non-bulky items, except for recordings and literature; no costumes,  instruments or the like.
  4. Available to the public during regular library hours at no charge.

In 1968, the collection was transferred to the library for curating and housing. Under the University's tutelage, members of the Library Committee and Bev Wilder (Folk Dance Camp Committee liaison) were trained in the necessary library techniques. In cooperation with Folk Dance Camp, the Library bought the equipment needed to play items in the collection.  From 1968 through 1973, Library Committee members did all of the curating and shelving of the collection. In 1973, Bev Wilder took over the curating function and also began preparing all the card file cards. Bev retired from his Folk Dance Camp responsibilities in 1990 and Bruce Mitchell became the Folk Dance Camp Committee liaison to the Library.

Through donations from almost 40 retired folk, square, and round dance leaders, estates, Folk Dance Camp, and others, the collection has grown to become the largest collection of its kind in the western United States.
The collections contains the following items.


78 rpm records
10,000 recordings. These have been converted to cassette tapes. The original records are in storage at the University, but are available if needed. They have not been digitized as of this date.

45 rpm records
Over 7,500 records are in the Library (15,000+ recordings).  All of these records have been digitized, and indexed by country. The records themselves are in the basement of the Library and the discs are now on the shelves.

33 1/3 rpm records
There are over 2000 LP records in the collection. Over 1,650 have been digitized with the balance of the collection to be completed by the end of 2013. The completed work has also been indexed by country. Approximately half of the LPs are in the Library basement and the balance are on the shelves.
Cassette Tapes
The commercial cassette tapes have been removed from the Library. They are in the process of being cataloged. The conversion to digital format will start in 2014.
CDs and Mini-Discs
Starting in 1969 all of the dances introduced at Camp have been recorded on CDs.


VHS Tapes
From 1972 through 1987 (with the exception of 1975), Camp dances were provided in this format.
VHS tapes from 1988-2004 were converted to DVD format and split into chapters. Starting in 2005 all Camp dances were prepared only in DVD format.
We are beginning, with permission from teachers or families, to put dances from our VHS and DVD collection onto our YouTube account, and linked to them from our website.


Stockton Folk Dance Camp Syllabi
A complete collection of dance syllabi from Stockton Folk Dance Camp starting in 1948 are in the Library.  In addition, they are available here on our website. They represent well over 2,000 dances.
Folk Dance Federation of California
The Folk Dance Federation of California printed in their magazine Let’s Dance! descriptions for hundreds of the dances taught at Stockton Folk Dance Camp. Those dance descriptions have been scanned and the disc with the index of dances organized by country are in the Library.
Miscellaneous Dance Institutes and Workshops
Over 1000 dance descriptions have been scanned. The disc and the index of dances are in the Library. This is a work in progress.
Dance Instructions with Records
Many records came with a booklet of dance descriptions. They are being scanned and the index by country is with the disc in the Library. This is a work in progress.
Cricket Raybern Collection
The material scanned by Cricket Raybern is now available on CD in the Library and we anticipate it will be updated annually.
Other Dance Camps
Many hard copy syllabi collected from other sources are in the Library. They are currently being scanned and will be available in the Library.


Hardback Books
These are on the Library shelves. An index that includes a short synopsis of each book is available in the Library.
Large Books
These are large pamphlets, thin books, and miscellaneous items that are in boxes. There is an index describing these items in the collection.
Small Books
These are small pamphlets, small books, and smaller miscellaneous items kept in a box in the Library with an index.


American Square Dancer: 1982-85-incomplete
Northern Junket (edited by Ralph Page): complete
American Squares: 1963-66-incomplete
Northwest Folk Dancer:  1996-present*
Country Dance and Song Society: 1960-present*
Rosin the Bow: 1953-57-incomplete
English Dance and Song: 1966-70-incomplete
Round Dancer: 1971-76-incomplete
English Folk Dancer: 1942-56-incomplete
Sets in Order (edited by Bob Osgood): 1949-85-complete
Folk Dance Scene (Calif. Fed. South): 1975-present-incomplete*
Sing Out: 1964-67-incomplete
Let’s Dance! (Folk Dance Fed. North): 1944-present-incomplete*
Tamburitzan: 1960-63-incomplete
National Folk Organization: 1995-present*
Viltis (edited by Vyts Beliajus): complete set except Nov./Dec. 1994
*updated annually
The Lawton Harris Collection of Folk Dance Materials is housed in the new music/A.V. section of the University of the Pacific Library, behind the circulation desk located on the western side of the second floor. Next to this section is the facility for listening to music and observing the VHS/DVD materials. Dance descriptions and CDs may be copied, however we are not allowed to have the VHS tapes or DVDs copied due to agreements made with the instructors at the time of VHS tapes and DVDs were made.
Digitizing music and scanning dance descriptions has created more space in the Library. We are still accepting additional items to add to the Lawton Harris Collection.  For additional information, contact Bruce Mitchell at (530) 888-6586 or