Guide to the Dances and Balls Souvenir Collection, Souvenirs 18




The Dances and Balls Souvenir Collection contains dance cards, invitations, programs and notices for dances and balls with military themes in Australia and overseas since 1903. The collection features events organised by units serving overseas and in Australia. There are also a number of items in the collection relating to events held in Australia and other countries on the behalf of servicemen or in their honour. A small part of the collection is focused on commemorating anniversaries and significant events. This collection focuses on dances and balls held during the First World War, the Inter-War period and the Second World War. Some of the items in the collection do not have dates provided.

SERIES 1: Dances and Balls, 1800-1913. This series contains programs and tickets for military dances and balls held prior to the First World War.; SERIES 2: Dances and Balls, 1914-1919 Description: This series contains programs, invitations, dance cards and tickets for dances and balls organised and attended by Australian servicemen serving in France and Belgium during the First World War and on troopships returning to Australia in 1919. A number of these items also relate to dances and balls held in Australia and the United Kingdom attended by Australian servicemen, events held in their honour and fundraising events. A small number of the items in this series from 1919 relate to the commemoration of peace and the signing of the Armistice.; SERIES 3: Dances and Balls, 1920-1938. Description: This series includes programs and tickets for military dances and balls held in Australia during the inter-war period from 1920 to 1938. These relate to events organised by peace-time units and to commemorate significant events.; SERIES 4: Dances and Balls, 1939-1945. Description: This series includes programs, tickets, invitations, notices and menus for dances held between 1939 and 1945. Items in this series relate to events organised by military units and attended by Australian servicemen serving in Australia and the South Pacific during this period. There are also items related to events in Australia with military themes.; SERIES 5: Dances and Balls, 1946 - present. Description: This series includes tickets and programs to dances and balls held in Australia since the Second World War. These include dances and balls held as annual events and to commemorate military anniversaries.

Dances and balls are social gatherings, usually formal, that have traditionally been organised to celebrate historical and special events, for fundraising or in honour of groups of people. Dances and balls remain popular events in civilian society and were among the forms of entertainment pursued by servicemen overseas. Entertainment of the troops and the range of available recreation was widely regarded as important for morale with dances and balls helping to fulfil this expectation. Dances and balls were also a strong link and reminder to civilian life and assisted in counteracting the craving of servicemen for the familiarity of social events enjoyed at home. On the home front, a large number of organisations such as the Australian Red Cross Society, Australian Comforts Fund and the Salvation Army co-ordinated a range of activities including dances for evening entertainment. Everyone was involved in fundraising and women were strongly involved in wartime volunteer work. Commenting on the effort of women during the First World War, Mr Heney wrote """"....They devised picnics and dances and outings for the sick soldiers in their midst and for the young people who must be kept from missing altogether the things which pertain to happy youth.""""Dance cards were a common accompaniment at balls and dances from the nineteenth century well into the twentieth century and were generally only given to ladies. They came in a variety of designs, either simple or elaborate, and were often accompanied by a small pencil attached by a cord to the card. The front cover of the dance card told the occasion for the event, the location, the date, sometimes the price of the ticket, and often the name of the band that would be playing that evening. Dance cards usually contained a list of the evening's dances with spaces provided for the names of the gentlemen to whom the lady had promised them. ( Ernest Scott, Australia During the War (Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1938)

Contact Senior Curator, Private Records, Australian War Memorial.

Open - Contact Senior Curator, Private Records, Australian War Memorial.

Selected additional and related material available at using the search terms described under 'subject _local'. Copies of many items from the Memorial's collections may also be purchased @


Balls; Dances; Entertainment; Fundraisings; Military Units; Souvenirs

Entertainment; Military service

Programs; Tickets

Coverage Temporal



Related Collections


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2011-06-08 12:32