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Lloyd Shaw Foundation Audiovisual Collection

Identifier: D016


  • 1850-2007
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1985


Biographical / Historical

Dr. Lloyd Shaw was born September 29, 1890 in Denver, CO to William Goodman and Julia Anne (Banker) Shaw. His parents moved the family to California, where his father was briefly involved in real estate, then back to Denver and eventually to Colorado Springs, where Lloyd Shaw lived for the remainder of his life. He attended The Colorado College for undergraduate studies. Immediately after graduating in 1913, he married Dorothy Cory Stott (Dorothy Stott Shaw, November 26, 1891-March 12, 1985), and began a lengthy career as an educator. In 1916 he was hired to teach at and be principal of Cheyenne Mountain School in the Broadmoor area, and became superintendent of the Cheyenne Mountain School District shortly afterward. Dorothy was simultaneously hired to be the school librarian. Lloyd and Dorothy remained at Cheyenne Mountain School until their mutual retirement in June of 1951. While at Cheyenne Mountain, Shaw pursued a radical transformation of the school’s academic and athletic offerings until they included carpentry, astronomy, Native studies, rodeo, skiing, hiking, and folk dancing, in addition to more traditional subjects. In 1928 and 1937 he was awarded Honorary Doctorates from The Colorado College and the University of Colorado, respectively. In 1936 Lloyd Shaw took a group of dancers to perform at Central City; the group became known as The Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, and farther-ranging tours commenced shortly afterward, with their first cross-national trip happening in 1939. Also in 1939, Shaw published his best-known work, “Cowboy Dances,” and with his dancers conducted a demonstration in Chicago for the annual conference of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; together, these generated enough demand that in 1940 he began running summer institutes for educators interested in western square dancing. The classes went on hiatus from 1942-1944 for World War II, but began again in 1945 and continued until after his retirement in 1951. By the end of the run there were three sessions each summer, including a special invitation-only fellowship in August which continued even after his death; its membership eventually became the nucleus of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation. In 1950 Lloyd Shaw founded a record company, Lloyd Shaw Records, in collaboration with Fred Bergin, owner of Rinx Records. He passed away on July 18, 1958 and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. His wife, Dorothy; a daughter, Doli Shaw (Doli Obee); and Doli’s children, Enid Allison Obee (Enid Cocke) and Kent David Obee, survived him.

Lloyd Shaw attended local elementary schools in Glendale, California and Denver, Colorado, as well as Colorado Springs, CO; after the family moved to Colorado Springs, he graduated from Colorado Springs High School in 1909. Following graduation, he attended The Colorado College for four years, graduating in 1913 with a Bachelors of Arts (AB). During his sophomore year he became engaged to Dorothy Cory Stott, who also graduated in 1913. Following graduation, Lloyd Shaw was hired to teach science and English courses at Cutler Academy, the preparatory school run by The Colorado College. When Cutler Academy shut down in 1914, he was hired by the Colorado Springs High School as a biology teacher, simultaneously coaching dramatics both there and at the college. He remained at Colorado Springs High School from 1914 until 1916, when he quit and became principal of the Cheyenne Mountain School. In addition, his work there included teaching Senior English as well as coaching sports and dramatics. In 1917 he wrote The Littlest Wiseman, a Christmas pageant that would be performed by the school annually until his retirement; it was officially published as a book in 1951 and is still being performed. In 1919 school officials asked Shaw to return to Colorado Springs High School as principal, but he declined; by 1920 he had been promoted to Superintendent of Cheyenne Mountain School District. In 1928 The Colorado College awarded him an honorary Doctorate, followed by the University of Colorado giving him an honorary Doctorate of Education in 1937. He retired from the District in 1951 due to health problems, but remained an influential figure in the local community and in the national square dance scene. In addition to his work as an educator and dance leader, Lloyd Shaw wrote regular newspaper articles. The first of these were published in 1915 and collected into his book, “Nature Notes of the Pikes Peak Region,” which was published in 1916. Near the end of his life, from 1956 until 1957, the Colorado Springs Free Press published his daily column, ”Half a Century of Memories.”

Significant organizational memberships and relationships in Shaw’s life included his extended relationship with The Colorado College, where he served as class president, yearbook editor, dramatics coach, and as an Alumni Trustee from 1923-1936 and 1938-1942; he also conducted at least one series of dance courses on the college campus. He helped set up the first branch of the Colorado Mountain Club outside the city of Denver in 1919, was president of the Winter Night Club in 1937, and was a member of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. With regard to dance, he was associated with some of the early National Square Dance Conventions, serving as Master of Ceremonies at the 3rd National Convention in 1954, and was on the organizing committee for the National Folk Festival in 1940. He was the primary teacher, choreographer, and caller for the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers from the 1920s until his retirement, and choreographed the dancing for the 1946 movie “Duel in the Sun.” He initially recorded his own calling with Decca Records and the “Duel in the Sun Orchestra,” but in 1950 started his own label, Lloyd Shaw Records, in conjunction with Fred Bergin; it focused on round dance and folk dance music, but also included square dance tunes. He worked with Alfred Brown of the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind to help them create their own square dance exhibition team, and was indirectly associated with the American Square Dance Association, contributing several letters and articles to the periodical “Sets in Order.” Both of his major dance books, “Cowboy Dances” in 1939 and “The Round Dance Book” in 1947, were published by the Caxton Printers, in Idaho; after his death, this formed the basis for a continued relationship with the Lloyd Shaw Foundation.

Dr. Shaw was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, both during his life and posthumously. Significant among these are his two honorary doctorates, a 1949 citation from the American Academy of Physical Education for his folk dancing program, the Sets in Order Foundation’s first Silver Spur Award in 1956, induction into the Sets in Order Square Dance Hall of Fame in 1961 as its first member, and a posthumous Milestone Award from CALLERLAB in 1983. More recently, in October of 2012 he was named to the Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 Hall of Fame.

Lloyd Shaw had relationships with many, if not most, of the important leaders involved in square and folk dancing during his lifetime. His initial contact was Elizabeth Burchenal; he also frequently corresponded with and visited Ralph Page in New Hampshire. Herb Greggorson, whom he met in 1940 during a visit to El Paso, Texas, also became a frequent correspondent and participated in a round robin style letter along with Al Brundage, who attended Shaw’s summer class in 1949. Other major contacts include Bob Brundage, who attended a class in 1954; and Bob Osgood, whom Shaw met in 1946 during a visit to California. Dean Edwards, also a successful caller from Colorado Springs, had something of a philosophical rivalry with Lloyd Shaw.

The Shaw family was also extensively involved with square dancing both during and after Lloyd’s death. His older brother, Ray Shaw, was a caller in California for the Rip and Snort club where Bob Osgood danced. Dorothy Shaw became a highly significant figure in the square dance world herself, lecturing widely, helping to start the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, and serving as Executive Secretary until 1979. Lloyd and Dorothy’s daughter Doli married Donald Jenkins Obee, who served as President of the Foundation from 1965 until 1979; their daughter, Enid Cocke, has served as President since August of 1979.

The Lloyd Shaw Foundation was voted into existence in August of 1964, following the yearly Lloyd Shaw Summer Fellowship held at the home of Dorothy Stott Shaw in Colorado Springs, CO. It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs, and the original membership consisted of 46 dance leaders from across the United States and Canada; by 1966 there were over 140 members. The Foundation is still incorporated in the state of Colorado, but its headquarters address moved to Manhattan, Kansas in 1979. The stated purpose of the organization is to, “Recall, restore, and teach the folk rhythms of the American people.” Implicit in the mission is the additional goal of doing so in a manner consistent with the educational and dance philosophies of Lloyd Shaw. The first President of the Foundation was Don Armstrong, who served from 1964-1965; he stepped down under the conviction that a member of Lloyd Shaw’s family should serve as president. Donald Jenkins Obee, Shaw’s son-in-law, served as president from 1965 until 1979, and was followed in this position by his daughter Enid Cocke, 1979 to present. Dorothy Stott Shaw, Lloyd Shaw’s wife, served as Executive Secretary from 1964 until 1979. Although the Foundation originally drew its membership from the Lloyd Shaw Summer Fellowship attendees, and conducted its annual meeting after the close of each Fellowship until 1978, the two were never officially affiliated. The Lloyd Shaw Foundation has had significant relationships with a number of other organizations, including the United Square Dancers of America, Legacy, and CALLERLAB, The Country Dance and Song Society, the New England Square Dance Foundation, and international music distributors. In 1986 the Library of Congress named the Archives Division as a clearing house for square dance materials, and in 1987 the Archives helped form the National Dance Archives Coordinating Committee.

The Lloyd Shaw Foundation’s primary functions and activities are educational; although it focuses on square and contra dancing, many other dance traditions are represented in its programs. Under the Foundation’s auspices, college credit-granting workshops were conducted at Colorado State University from 1965 until the mid-1970s, and at other universities and colleges as well; workshops and teacher training courses continue to be held around the country and internationally, and the Foundation and its members have consistently conducted presentations and dances at the request of numerous organizations. The Foundation has actively produced and revised targeted dance education kits to assist teachers in dance education since 1966, including resources designed specifically for grades from kindergarten through high school as well as special education students. Other activities have included sponsoring and running dance camps, particularly the Rocky Mountain Dance Roundup in Colorado, Cumberland Gap in Kentucky, and Terpsichore’s Holiday in West Virginia; providing scholarships for members and groups to attend various dance camps around the country and to travel internationally; and providing research and historical services through the Lloyd Shaw Dance Library and the Archives Division. The Foundation has also acted as a publisher for musical recordings and dance books, and publishes its own journal.

Since 1967, members of the Board of Directors have served for a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms, with descendants and relatives of Lloyd Shaw being exempt from the term limits. From 1976 until 2004, the Archives Division existed as an independent entity within the Lloyd Shaw Foundation administrative structure, overseen by its director and the Executive Directors. The Foundation maintained an office for its mailing operations in Lakewood, CO from 1972 until they were moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1988, where they shared facilities with the Archives Division. The Archives Division was disbanded after its materials were donated to the University of Denver in 2003.

In 1972 the Lloyd Shaw Foundation Dance Archives was started by Mary D Walsh. At the time, it consisted of a single 8mm film of E.S. “Red“ Henderson calling for his Spokane, Washington-based performance group, the Silver Spurs. In August of 1976 the Foundation’s Board of Directors voted to create an official Archives Division; Dr. Litchman was appointed Director, under the direction of the Executive Committee. By December the Archives was offering photocopies, research services, and a tape recording service; the organizational newsletter, the “Long Shadow,” actively solicited donations of both money and materials. In 1978 the Board of Directors voted to provide an operating budget and funds for acquisitions. Prior to and even after the formation of the Archives researchers had access to the Lloyd Shaw Dance Library, which consisted of Lloyd Shaw’s personal collection, at the home of Dorothy Shaw in Colorado Springs, CO. Some of these resources were later incorporated into the Archives, but many remained in the possession of the family. The Archives was housed at Dr. Litchman’s home in Albuquerque, NM until 1982. In 1982 it was shifted into a renovated chicken coop, and moved again in 1988 to a local dance studio purchased by the Foundation. Dr. Litchman began negotiations to permanently move the Lloyd Shaw Foundation Dance Archives to the University of Denver in 2002, and the transition was completed in 2003.


1300 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lloyd Shaw Foundation, 2003.


Further accruals are expected.

Processing Information

This collection contains unprocessed and uncataloged AV materials. Materials need to be rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders. 01/10/18 RH



Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428