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Balfour (Vernon) Walkathon collection
MS 4141  
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Dance marathons, also known as danceathons or walkathons, were a form of competition that started in the 1920s and continued on through to the 1930s, becoming a popular form of entertainment during the depression era. Cash prizes brought contestants, many of whom became regulars at competitions and gained fan followings. The shows were often accompanied by live music and special events to keep the crowd entertained. This collection was created and gathered by Vernon Balfour, a contest promoter, and documents multiple walkathon and dance marathon competitions around California, including ones held at Bay Area event venues that no longer exist. The collection comprises programs, advertisments, broadsides, newspaper clippings, tickets and invitations promoting upcoming events, as well as formal portraits of contestants, which were often sold to ticket holders at the events.
A variety of names have been used to describe the endurance dance contests of the 1920s and 1930s. Materials in this collection refer to these events as the dance or walkathon derby, walkathon, or dance marathon. The term walkathon may have been used by promoters, particularly in California, to frame these controversial endurance contests in more respectable terms.
1.5 Linear Feet One legal document box and one flat box.
Because of the assembled nature of this collection, copyright status varies across the collection. Copyright is assumed to be held by the original creator of individual items in the collection. Unpublished works are expected to pass into the public domain 120 years after their creation; works published before 1923 have entered the public domain. The California Historical Society (CHS) is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from this collection. For more information, please contact rights@calhist.org.
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