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Detroit Recreation Department Dance Program: Shirley Harbin Records

 Collection
Identifier: UR001618
The Collection captures Recreation Dancing in Detroit though the administration, performances, scripts and plans of the Dance Program, along with references to other dance studios and initiatives in the metro area including the Harbinger Dance Company, the Mme. Cadillac Dance Theatre, the Jewish Community Center, and the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project. Of special research value is the large collection of original choreographed dances dating to 1924 that were performed by the students in classes and performances. The choreographed dances include ballet, tap, modern and folk dancing, often indicating the particular musical score to which the counts and measures have been assigned.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: Ballet Choreography Dance Detroit, City of Detroit, Department of Recreation Detroit, Department of Parks and Recreation Folk dancing Modern dance Among the important individuals named are: Harriet Berg Amelita Almanza Bridges Eleanor Cattron Shirley Harbin Marian FitzGerald Vivian Glauz McMillan Lisa Nowak Barbara Tait

Series I, Manuscript Material, 1912-1992, Boxes 1-4: Subseries A: General Files, 1953-1992, Box 1-2, Dance Program performances, plans and classes, Detroit Parks and Recreation Bulletins, local dance companies, information packets, fliers, and brochures accumulated through the years. Of notable interest are both local and national theater programs including: Betty White in “The King and I” at the Cass Theatre, 1959 Florence Henderson in “The Sound of Music” at the Riviera Theatre, 1961 Carol Channing in “Hello, Dolly!” at the Fisher Theatre, 1962/63 Season Kathryn Grayson in “Camelot” at the Fisher Theatre, 1962/63 Season Subseries B: Dance Choreography, 1924-1964, Box 2, Dances for classes and performances with written steps, counts and measures, often arranged to specific music. Subseries C: Music Books and Scores, 1913-1968, Box 2, Handwritten sheet music as well as compiled books, many of which relate to choreographed dances. Subseries D: Catalogs, 1964-1990, Box 3, Assorted costume and fabric catalogs. Subseries E: Published Books and Magazines, 1912-1990, Box 1; Boxes 3-4, Books and magazines with a subject matter of dance, plays and performances, as well as the local publication City Arts Quarterly.

Series II, Non-manuscript Material, [1950s-1970s], Box 5: 8 Labeled 45s 1 Labeled Compact 33 1/3 9 Identified 7” Reel Tape, [1960s-70s] 11 Identified 5” Reel Tape, [1960s-70s] 8 Unidentified 7” Reel Tape, [1950s] 4 Unidentified 5” Reel Tape, [1960s-70s] Plus three labeled boxes with possible mate among those unidentified

Dates

  • 1912 - 1992
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1980

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (4 SB, 1 OS)

Abstract

The Detroit Recreation Department has had a long and storied history of mergers, re-naming, re-organizing, and re-structuring. Growing out of once separate Parks and Recreation Commissions, its history has long included a Recreation Division which administered a dance program as part of its Special Activities Unit. Shirley Harbin was hired in 1963 as a Senior Recreation Instructor in Drama, and by 1971, she was the Senior Recreation Instructor in Dramatics and Music. At the time Harbin was with the department, Eleanor Cattron was the Senior Recreation Instructor of Dance.

The Records encompass more than just Harbin's tenure. They capture Recreation Dancing in Detroit though the administration, performances, scripts and plans of the Dance Program, along with references to other dance studios and initiatives in the metro area including the Harbinger Dance Company, the Mme. Cadillac Dance Theatre, the Jewish Community Center, and the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project. Of special research value is the large collection of original choreographed dances dating to 1924 that were performed by the students in classes and performances. The choreographed dances include ballet, tap, modern and folk dancing, often indicating the particular musical score to which the counts and measures have been assigned.

History

The Detroit Recreation Department has had a long and storied history of mergers, re-naming, re-organizing, and re-structuring, that its history has become clouded and unclear, and very little documentation exists. A Committee on Parks for the city was first appointed in 1854, and with the purchase of Belle Isle in 1879, a need arose for governmental organization, leading to legislation for a Commissioner of Parks and Boulevards in 1889. While the city was establishing and governing parks, playgrounds were soon developed and opened beginning in 1901, with a 1914 ordinance creating a Recreation Commission, changing in 1920 to the Department of Recreation. The Department of Parks and Recreation was formed through the consolidation of the Department of Parks and Boulevards and the Department of Recreation in December of 1940 remaining until 1974 when the new city charter took effect, and the resultant restructuring of city departments created the Detroit Recreation Department.

For most of its history, Detroit Parks and Recreation was subdivided into four distinct divisions: Recreation, Forestry & Landscaping, Public Service, and Building & Equipment Maintenance. Within the Recreation Division fell various units, including Competitive Athletics, Senior Citizens, Swimming, and Special Activities. Dance was part of the Special Activities Unit which supported mobile summer programs, theatre productions, symphony concerts, the International Freedom Festival, and the Christmas Carnival. The various recreation centers throughout the city contracted certain classes for their centers including dance, dramatics, puppetry, sewing, and painting. The Special Activities staff supervised these “specialists” for the different programs at each center.

Shirley Harbin was hired in 1963 as a Senior Recreation Instructor in Drama, and by 1971, she was the Senior Recreation Instructor in Dramatics and Music. Contained within the collection are some of her files and correspondences. While the collection is labeled the Shirley Harbin Collection, the Dance Program is documented with the earliest reference to 1924 when it was then the Detroit Department of Recreation, and Vivian Glauz McMillan the Director of Dancing during the 1920s to around the 1940s. At the time Shirley Harbin was with the department, Eleanor Cattron was the Senior Recreation Instructor of Dance.

Arrangement

Arranged in 2 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-4), Series 2 (Box 5), and Series 3. Folders are arranged alphabetically (some chronologically.

Series 1 is further divided into five subseries.

Acquisition

The papers of Shirley Harbin were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 3/20/95 and 7/7/95 and were opened for research on 4/28/08.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library on April 28, 2008.
Title
Guide to the Detroit Recreation Department Dance Program: Shirley Harbin Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Date
2008-04-28
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA