Jeter-Smith Dance Collection, 1927-1974 (bulk 1927-1940)
(Document/manuscript/pamphlet/archival material)


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LocationCall NumberStatus
Special Collections - Upon RequestWorkroom range 5 section 6Library Use Only

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LC Subjects
Business enterprises -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dance -- History -- 20th Century -- Sources.
Dance -- Production and direction -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dance -- Study and teaching -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dance Center (Nashville, Tenn.).
Dance costume -- Photographs.
Dance recitals.
Dance schools -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dance teachers -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dancers -- Photographs.
Dancers -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Dancers -- United States.
Jeter, Sarah, -- 1901-1985.
Male dancers.
Modern dance -- Pictorial works.
Modern dance -- Southern States.
Modern dance -- Study and teaching.
Modern dance -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Modernism (Aesthetics) -- Southern States.
Modernism (Aesthetics) -- United States.
Nashville (Tenn.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
Nashville (Tenn.) -- Intellectual life.
Nashville (Tenn.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Nashville Conservatory of Music (Tenn.).
Performing arts -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Scottish Rite Temple (Nashville, Tenn.).
Shawn, Ted, -- 1891-1972.
Smith, Louise Showers, -- 1902-1983.
St. Denis, Ruth, -- 1880-1968.
Studio of Dancing (Nashville, Tenn.).
Ward-Belmont College (Nashville, Tenn.) -- Alumni and alumnae.
Ward-Belmont College (Nashville, Tenn.).
Women -- Social life and customs -- Tennessee.
Women -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
Women -- Tennessee -- Nashville.
Women -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
Women dancers.
Women in the arts.
Women-owned business enterprises -- Tennessee -- Nashville.

More Details

Document/manuscript/pamphlet/archival material
Physical Desc
3.66 cu. ft.
227 photographs.
71 souvenir programs.
774 print ephemera.
1 display folio 28 x 24 x 1 in.


Organization & arrangement of materials
Organization: By format: documents, photographs, display folio.,Arrangement: Within each format, chronologically.
Restrictions on Access
In library use only. Available by appointment.
Scope and content: This collection documents the many recitals, performances, and musical revues co-produced in Nashville by Sarah Jeter and Louise Smith between 1927 and 1940 in the course of their affiliation with Ward-Belmont, the Studio of Dancing, the School of Dancing of the Nashville Conservatory of Music, and the Dance Center. Also documented is information about their schools, their teaching, and performances by their students, as well as other professionals. The influence of Ruth St. Denis and her husband, Ted Shawn, is well-documented in the collection. Dance recitals by Jeter-Smith's students and dance productions they created or supervised for a variety of local organizations, including charity and theatrical events, are also well documented. Dancers included celebrities like Dinah Shore and many future civic leaders of Nashville, or their spouses. Venues included the Scottish Rite Temple, the Ryman Auditorium, Ward-Belmont and others. Materials consist of programs, newspaper clippings, brochures, letters, photographs, and a large display folio containing newspaper rotogravure and other illustrated articles.
Preferred Citation of Described Materials
Cite as: [description and date of item], Jeter-Smith Dance Collection, Special Collections Division, Nashville Public Library.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code). Copyright status is undetermined.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Sarah Jeter and Louise Smith;,Gift;,1978.,Acc. RT-338.
Location of Other Archival Materials
Associated Materials: Belmont University also holds materials related to Sarah Jeter and Louise Smith.
Biographical or Historical Data
Sarah Clayton Jeter was born May 17, 1901 in Florence, Alabama, the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. R.C. Jeter, received her early education there and at Alabama State Normal before coming to Ward-Belmont, where she majored in physical education. With friend and fellow graduate Louise Showers Smith, she joined the faculty of her alma mater, the private ladies school, Ward-Belmont, in 1926. Besides her Belmont instruction under Miss Emma Sisson, Miss Jeter received further dance instruction from Nicholas Tsoukalas of Chicago, from Andreas Pavley and Serge Oukrainsky, Alexis Kosloff, Sonia Serova, Eddie Russell, and the Ned Wayburn Dance Studios. In later years she worked or studied with dance teachers Michael Folkine, Adolph Bolm, Doris Humphreys, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and others. In 1927, Miss Jeter and Miss Smith prepared ballet for a local production of Cavalleria Rusticana presented by Gaetano S. De Luca, director of Ward-Belmont's vocal department, and F. Arthur Henkel, conductor of the first Nashville Symphony. Later that year on October 17, 1927 Miss Jeter and Miss Smith opened the Studio of Dancing at 1812 Hillsboro Road, and their curriculum included ballet, toe, tap dancing, and ballroom dancing for children and adults. Miss Smith was class accompanist and co-director of productions, focusing on the musical and technical phase of production, which she had studied in New York. Following the first of a series of studio recitals at the Little Theatre, they became directors of the School of Dancing of the newly-formed Nashville Conservatory of Music at 2122 West End Avenue, opened in September, 1928). "Denishawn" (the new style developed by Ruth St. Denis and her husband Ted Shawn) and modern dance were two new courses offered. In 1932, Jeter and Smith returned to Ward-Belmont and instituted a dance certificate with instruction in ballet, toe, modern, Denishawn, tap, musical comedy, history of the dance, choreography, and costume design - later it was expanded to a three-year diploma. The formal opening of the Dance Center in the Leslie Cheek home at 2304 West End Avenue was September 16, 1935. In 1936 it moved to an abandoned firehall at 1712 Broadway. Jeter moved to New York City in 1940 where she attended with Smith the American Radio Institute in New York City and won a scholarship to the American School of Design. In January, 1943, she volunteered in the American Red Cross to "see the world" in a time of war and spent the better part of 1943-1947 abroad in the Near East, Africa, and Japan at various service posts. In 1966 after a 23-year stint with the Red Cross which followed her teaching career, Jeter returned for a Ward-Belmont reunion. Sarah Clayton Jeter died February 27, 1985, at her Nashville home in the Park Manor Presbyterian Apartments, age 82, after suffering a stroke. With no family or survivors, she was cremated and there was no memorial service.
Biographical or Historical Data
Louise Showers Smith was born December 8, 1902 in Shelbyville, Kentucky, daughter to Owen Prentiss Smith and Nancy Lee Daugherty Smith. She moved to Nashville as a child with her parents, and was educated in the Nashville public schools and at Ward-Belmont, where her diploma was in physical education. She had completed a year of post-graduate work there when an attack of polio ended her work in physical education and she turned to music. After her work as accompanist and co-producer with Sarah Clayton Jeter, Smith joined her at the American Radio School in New York, after which she taught international code to enlisted personnel at Chicago's Army Air Corps Technical Command. She transferred in May 1943 to the Navy Department in Washington as an expediter at the Bureau of Ships, from which she retired in 1948, moving then to Delray Beach, Florida, with her mother, Mrs. Nancy Lee Lindsey. There she turned a former hobby into a profession and became the official photographer for the city of Delray Beach and for the Norton Gallery of Players of West Palm Beach. Rejoining the Bureau of Ships in 1951, she retired in 1968 to Nashville with her mother, who passed away in 1977. Smith became press representative at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, Massachusetts, in 1970, its 38th year, with old cohort and festival founder Ted Shawn. Her final years were spent as roommate with Jeter, whom she preceded in death on February 24, 1983, at Nashville's Park View Hospital. She was a member of Vine Street Christian Church.
In English.
Cumulative Index/Finding Aids
Finding aid available in repository, arranged by date of performance and including list of performers as an appendix;,
Cumulative Index/Finding Aids
Detailed item-level descriptions including captions in spreadsheet;,item level control.,
Ownership and Custodial History
Collected and in the possession of Sarah Jeter and Louise Smith, and organized and inventoried by them, prior to its donation to the Nashville Public Library.
Describe;,2006;,Ronnie Pugh,create electronic version of original typescript finding aid.
Catalog;,2006;,Ronnie Pugh.
Rehouse and reprocess;,2009;,Beth Odle,new organization and arrangement scheme.
Describe;,2017;,Rose Mary Reed, volunteer,finding aid for new organization scheme.
Accumulation and Frequency of Use
No further accruals are expected.


APA Citation, 7th Edition (style guide)

Jeter, S., & Smith, L. S. 1. Jeter-Smith Dance Collection .

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Jeter, Sarah, 1901-1985 and Louise Showers 1902-1983. Smith. Jeter-Smith Dance Collection. .

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities (Notes and Bibliography) Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Jeter, Sarah, 1901-1985 and Louise Showers 1902-1983. Smith. Jeter-Smith Dance Collection .

MLA Citation, 9th Edition (style guide)

Jeter, Sarah, and Louise Showers 1902-1983 Smith. Jeter-Smith Dance Collection

Note! Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy. Citation formats are based on standards as of August 2021.

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