My Card Is Full: The Evolution of the Farewell Ball Dance Cards

By Hayes Smith
February 2012

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My Card Is Full: The Evolution of the Farewell Ball Dance Cards

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Bound vertically in a brown leather cover, the Farewell Ball June 3rd 1920 dance card measures 11 x 7.5 cm. The cover is blind stamped with blue and yellow cords. After the order of dances, there is a calendar from June 1920 to May 1921. The months are listed two at a time, with large pictures above them. The stiff cardstock paper has gilt edges.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The Farewell Ball June 2nd 1921 dance card has a significantly different cover than the previous cards. The simple 9 x 6.5 cm white cardstock cover has a full color illustration on the cover with an embossed gold Naval Academy insignia. Previously, the covers were made of a more expensive material—usually leather or vinyl. This was the first ball held in Dahlgren Hall, one of the social buildings on the Naval Academy yard. The dances are listed 3 on a page, with no names of the songs, only the types of dances. The dances are not filled out. Next to the type of dance is a space labeled “meet under” and beneath the dances is a space for memories. There is also a different quote at the bottom of each page.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Front cover of the U.S. Naval Academy dance card for the June 2, 1921, Farewell Ball, from the scrapbook of Mary Lee Keith (Class of 1924). Goucher College Scrapbook Collection.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Similarly, the Farewell Ball June 2nd 1922 dance card has a white cardstock cover with a color illustration (from Keith Scrapbook, Goucher College Library). The 9 x 6.5 cm cover includes blind stamping and a blue and yellow cord. The layout is very much like the 1921 card, containing a list of dances, with a “meet under” space and space below for memories. This card, however, does not have quotes at the bottom of each page. At the end, there is a committee list. The card is filled out with black pen, and in the “meet under” section, flags are drawn with pen and colored. The ball was held in Dahlgren Hall, like the 1921 card also containing a “meet under” section. Dahlgren Hall is lined with flags on either side of the long, rectangular building. The “meet under” space allowed the women to draw in the flag and know exactly where she was to meet her next dancing partner. This aided even more in making sure that the women had a dance partner for every dance; it ensured that she would always be able to find her intended dance partner even in the crowded room. It is also possible that an escort would fill out the card in advance for his date with the illustrations of flags in order to ensure she danced the night away.

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