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Henry & Clara Ford
After 50 Years of Marriage


 

History & Heritage



Benjamin Lovett, Dance Master, 1925


 

Henry Ford and the revival of
country dancing . . .

       
HighBeam Encyclopedia


 

Lloyd Shaw



 

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Later in their marriage, Clara reminded him that "we have danced very little since we were married."

Her comment prompted Henry to renewed his acquaintance with old-time dancing. The couple's fumbling attempts at recalling their favorite dances sent Henry, never willing to be found less than perfect in any desired accomplishment, in search of an authoritative dancing master.




 

The man he was looking for was Benjamin B. Lovett. He and his wife, Charlotte, both natives of New Hampshire, had been teaching traditional New England social dancing in Worcester, Massachusetts, for some twenty years.

Lovett believed that dancing lessons should produce a "growth in social training as well as in habitual graceful carriage ... We clung to the old American country dances because they were typically American and provided much greater opportunity for this social training than the modern dances."

Ford met them on a trip to Massachusetts and was delighted to find another man with strong convictions about the role that old-fashioned dances could play in instilling manners in young people.

The Lovett's were invited to Dearborn to help organize a series of dances for the Fords. They expected to visit for a month or two. They stayed twenty years.





 

In 1926,
Mr. & Mrs. Ford and Mr. Lovett published the results of his research in a book which provided inspiration and material for many people who had wanted such a reference.  On the cover of this edition of their book, it says:














 


The book, "Good Morning",
was a public service
of inestimable value.
 The little book was an inspiration
to many people who had desperately
wanted this type of material.
They pounce on it.

One of the people who pounced
was a young Colorado
school superintendent named
Lloyd Shaw.

The photographs in the volume were posed by Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin B. Lovett, who also assisted in arranging the dance descriptions in the  book.




 

"Good Morning"
After a Sleep of Twenty-Five Years,
Old Fashioned Dancing is being revived
by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford







 

Ford, who grew up in a Michigan farming community in the years following the Civil War, met his wife, Clara, at a grange hall dance. Their courtship was carried on to the sound of fiddle tunes and the caller's instructions, "do-si-do" or "promenade home."






 

Amassing a collection of dances came next.

Agents were dispatched around the country to research the old steps and figures and collect the tunes that traditionally accompanied them.





















 

As soon as he had secured the Lovett's services, Ford sought out players familiar with the violin and the sousaphone and such rare instruments as the cybalum and dulcimer to serve as a house orchestra.

They were given rehearsal space in the Dearborn engineering laboratory, where they were to be ready to play at a moment's notice when their patron felt like going over a sequence of dance steps. An area of the large laboratory building was curtained off to serve as a ballroom, and Ford called in company executives and their wives to share his enthusiasm.

By the end of the first evening of dancing, confusion reigned. Ford's response was typical: "We'll have lessons every night until we get it right," he told the assembled group.










 



 



Clara Ford




 







 







 

Ford was concerned with the dance education of children.  His chosen instrument in that mission was Benjamin Lovett.

Nine months after the first dancing party in the engineering building, Ford decided that Lovett should organize a dancing school for young people in Dearborn.

The first class of eight boys and eight girls (enough for two quadrille sets) quickly grew into a much larger group, which eventually had to be subdivided into many classes. At one time there were 22,000 students from public schools in the Dearborn area participating in these classes.

Ford later took his mission to Detroit, providing training in country dancing for that city's physical education teachers. For years, these dances were part of the Detroit public school curriculum, which used a manual that Ford had written.

Lovett's influence soon extended to colleges and universities. Where European dances had been the only kind of folk dance taught in college physical education classes, now American dancing was added to the curriculum at such institutions as Temple, Michigan, Radcliffe, Stevens, and North Carolina.

Under Ford's sponsorship, the Lovett's taught in thirty-four universities, colleges, and normal schools.



Henry Ford
7/30/1863 - 4/7/1947