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Alma Hawkins papers, 1919-1998
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Indexing Terms

  • Title: Alma Hawkins papers
    Collection number: 2182
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 18.8 linear ft. (32 boxes, 8 flat storage boxes, 1 record carton)
    Date (inclusive): 1919-1998
    Abstract: This collection contains the professional and personal files of Alma Hawkins, the creator and original chair of the UCLA Dance Department; faculty member at UCLA, George Williams College, and Santa Monica College; and practicing dance therapist.
    Language of Materials: Materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Hawkins, Alma M.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where UCLA Library Special Collections does not hold the copyright.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    RESTRICTED ACCESS: Use of audio and moving image material requires production of listening and viewing copies.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Alma Hawkins Papers (Collection 2182). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Linda Gold, 2013.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Mathew Sandoval in 2014 in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Jasmine Jones.


    Alma Hawkins (1904-1998) was a pioneering dance administrator and educator who wrote a number of books about dance education and composition. Hawkins helped to establish the field of dance therapy, and founded the nation’s first autonomous university dance department at UCLA.
    Hawkins was born in the rural town of Rolla, Missouri, daughter of a dairy man and a homemaker. Having no outlets or training for dance, her early interests as a young girl were in athletics. With the help of her high school basketball coach, Hawkins was able to attend the University of Missouri, where she majored in physical education and received her first exposure to interpretive, folk, and social dancing.
    Upon graduating in 1927, Hawkins returned to Rolla, MO to teach physical education at the local high school, where she also began teaching dance and choreographing for local recitals and pageants. She eventually left Missouri for New York City in 1931 to work on a Master’s degree at Columbia University’s prestigious Teachers College. Hawkins received her degree from Columbia in 1932 and remained in New York City to teach physical education and dance at the YWCA, while also participating in the developing but vibrant modern dance scene of downtown New York.
    In 1938 she moved to Chicago to begin teaching at George Williams College teaching physical education and dance courses, while also helping to build a large national community of university educators to support modern dance. In the late 1940s, during her tenure at George Williams College, she began to spend her summers in New York to work on her PhD at the Columbia Teachers College. Her doctoral research focused on the integration of dance in physical education programs and the function of modern dance in university education, and, by 1952, she received her PhD.
    Her growing reputation as a national figure in dance and physical education led to her being recruited to join the faculty of the UCLA Physical Education Department in 1953. Collaborating with a number of other dance faculty within the Physical Education Department, Hawkins oversaw the development of a dance major in the department. This eventually paved the way for a split in the department between dance and physical education, which was encouraged by the university, culminating in the institution of dance as an autonomous department, replete with its own graduate program, in 1962. Hawkins chaired and taught in the newly formed UCLA Dance Department until her retirement in 1977.
    During her tenure at UCLA, Hawkins also served as a dance therapist and researcher at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute from 1960-1977, making a number of dance therapy films, while also finding time to form the Council of Dance Administrators, a national organization that created the guidelines and standards for national dance accreditation.
    Upon Hawkins’ retirement from UCLA, she taught as a distinguished professor at Santa Monica College until 1987. Over the course of her career, Hawkins authored four books including Modern Dance in Higher Education (1953), Creating through Dance (1963), Dance – A Projection for the Future (1968), and Moving from Within (1991). Hawkins died in her Santa Monica home in 1998.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes the professional and personal files of Alma Hawkins, the creator and original chair of the UCLA Dance Department, the nation’s first autonomous university department dedicated to the discipline of Dance. Significant topics represented in the collection are papers documenting the creation of the UCLA Dance Department; national and local articles profiling Hawkins and the UCLA Dance Department; Hawkins’ work with the Council of Dance Administrators, in establishing guidelines and curricula for university dance program accreditation; published and unpublished manuscripts, articles, conference papers, and speeches; research and evaluations from her work at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute; and personal ephemera from her youth, including items from her time at Columbia Teachers College, University of Missouri, and photos from her time at the Bennington College summer program for modern dance, which feature Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, and John Martin. Materials in the collection are largely textual, comprising notes, articles, agendas, publications, correspondences, memos, publications, and books. Among other formats scattered throughout the collection are photographs, videocassettes (Beta and VHS), audiocassettes, and artifacts, such as plaques and awards.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 7542797 

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Hawkins, Alma M.--Archives.
    University of California, Los Angeles. Department of Dance--Faculty--Archives.
    Dance teachers--United States--Archives.