Benny Goodman at the 1936 Junior Prom


May 3, 1935. Here’s an invitation and dance card for Haverford College’s 1936 Junior Promenade.


I love these little dance cards and have a few of them. Ladies would wear the card by the cord on their wrist and write in the names of guys who were to share each dance.  This ancient social tradition went back a century or so, but pretty much died out by the 1950s.

This particular card records what must have been a memorable Sunday evening for Swing fans, as the featured band was Benny Goodman’s.  Still in its earliest months, the band was soon to finish its’ featured spot on NBC Radio’s “Let’s Dance” series and hit the road for the first time.  This Philadelphia-area college gig was one of many that Benny did that spring.

Singing with the band that night were Helen Ward and Ray Hendricks, both of whom wrote kind greetings to Betty, the card owner.


Betty also got the band leader’s autograph.


Betty had a full dance card that night! 13 guys cut a rug with her, but Graham got the first, fourth and last dances, even with no last name.


It is fervently hoped that, as Helen Ward wrote, Betty always remembered the fun she had at the Junior Prom!

3 thoughts on “Benny Goodman at the 1936 Junior Prom

  1. “Have you got her dance card all filled out?”
    Esther Smith to Lucille Smith in “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

    Amongst the many things to treasure about such cards is the thought that Helen Ward would admonish “Betty” to always remember the fun. Really sweet.

    And 1936 is the year my mother would have gone to her prom.

    • Poor Clinton. 🙂

      BTW, I see I was mistaken in my first comment. First of all, it was Rose Smith, not Lucille. And second, it was Rose who addressed the question to Esther, not the other way around. Whew.

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