Gems of the Archives

MEH-Dress2Did you know that the National Museum of Dance not only showcases exhibits and programing related to dance in all its forms, but also houses a world-class archive of over 5,000 historical textiles, periodicals, photos and artwork? The Museum’s Resource Room and Archives contain some of the most beautiful, interesting and valued items from the history of dance as a whole. Many of these items cross paths with not only the history of dance, but the history of entertainment, global culture and even politics. One such item is a handmade Flamenco Dress, crafted specifically for Mary Elizabeth Hayes, daughter of Carlton J.H. Hayes, American Ambassador to Spain during the Second World War.

In 1942 President Roosevelt asked noted historian, military commander and family man J.H. Hayes to become American Ambassador to Spain. Though the fascist government of Spain under General Franco was sympathetic to the axis cause and provided raw materials, they never officially entered the war due to Hayes and his brand of patient diplomacy. During this time Hayes and his family was also instrumental in rescuing some tens of thousands of Spanish citizens that had been sentenced to death and transporting them to safety in Africa.

Mary Elizabeth Hayes was by her father’s side through all of this. The Flamenco dress in the archives of the National Museum of Dance was fashioned for her, during that time, to attend a party in Seville Spain. It is said General Franco was also in attendance at this party and remarked on her beauty, poise and exceptional ability in flamenco dance, calling her a “true soul of Spain”. Later, when asked of her family’s deeds in saving some of the Spanish Citizens from the fascist government she remarked, ”it is what a true soul of Spain would have done”.

Many more Gems lay in the archives of the National Museum of Dance. Interested in volunteering? Contact Jess Munson at or 518-584-2225 x3001


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