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Josephine L. Schwarz papers

Identifier: UASC-003

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of materials documenting the career of Josephine L. Schwarz as a dance choreographer and founder of the Dayton Ballet and Schwarz School of Dance. These organizations are extensively covered from the 1920s to the 1980s through press releases, brochures, announcements, summer schedules, ballet scores, and Miss Jo's choreography notes from ballets and conferences. The collection also contains brochures for European schools, as well as programs and articles of the Dayton Civic Ballet and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

Of particular note are photographs of Miss Jo and her sister, Hermene Schwarz, taken by the well-known photographer, Jane Reece. Other photographs depict ballets, rehearsals, and classes, some of which were taken by Walt Klein. The correspondence in the collection is from Miss Jo's dance family, well-wishers, and friends. Local and national newspaper and magazine articles about Miss Jo date from the 1930s to 1994. There are also numerous award certificates, plaques and scrapbooks.


  • 1905-1999


Access to Materials

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the Archives and Special Collections reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

Biography of Josephine L. Schwarz

Josephine Lindman Schwarz, the grande dame of dance and founder of the Dayton Ballet, was born on April 8, 1908, in Dayton, Ohio.

Miss Jo, as she was known in the dance world, began her dance career at 8 years of age. Initially, her dance classes served as physical therapy following her bout with the mumps. Her lessons helped her to rebuild her strength and regain her balance. Her therapy became a passion by age 14.

After her father's business went bankrupt, Miss Jo began teaching to raise money for her lessons. While in high school, she and her sister, Miss Hermene, spent vacations and summers studying dance with Adolph Bolm in Chicago. While there, Miss Jo danced with Ruth Page's Ravinia Opera Ballet.

In 1927, the sisters started the Schwarz School of Dance. Ten years later they founded the Experimental Group for Young Dancers. After several name changes, the dance company became known as the Dayton Ballet. The Dayton Ballet is one of the oldest regional companies in the United States.

Miss Jo fell in love with modern dance after witnessing a moving performance by the German modern dancers, Yvonne Georgi and Harold Kreutzberg. During the summers of 1929 and 1930, the sisters went to Germany and Austria to study modern dance with Mary Wigman and her disciples. From there, Miss Jo went to New York City to work with Charles Weidmann and Doris Humphrey. She returned to teach with Miss Hermene in 1937 after a knee injury ended her professional dance career. They taught ballet and modern dance, which was unheard of at the time.

Miss Jo taught and choreographed for the Schwarz School and Dayton Ballet for over 30 years and continued as an administrator until her retirement in 1984. Even after she left, she was still involved with the company as a mentor and founder. In 1980 she turned the job of director and choreographer over to Stuart Sebastian, a former student.

In 1994, Miss Jo moved to Boulder, Colorado, to be closer to her family. However, she often returned to Dayton to visit her beloved Dayton Ballet. She died February 27, 2004, in Boulder, Colorado.


9.6 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Personal and professional documents pertaining to dancer and choreographer Josephine Schwarz and to the Schwarz School of Dance and Dayton Ballet, both of which she founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1927 and 1937, respectively.


The Josephine L. Schwarz papers consist of five series and three subseries.

Missing Title

  1. Series 1: Dance
  2. Subseries 1: Dayton Ballet and Schwarz School
  3. Subseries 2: Programs and brochures
  4. Subseries 3: Articles, publications, and awards
  5. Series 2: Photographs
  6. Series 3: Correspondence
  7. Series 4: Miscellaneous
  8. Series 5: Oversize

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the University of Dayton Archives and Special Collections by Josephine L. Schwarz on 16 September 1994.

Related Materials

MS-218, Josephine Schwarz Papers. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.

Victory Theatre records, 1902-1981. University Archives and Special Collections, University of Dayton Libraries, Dayton, Ohio.

Processing Information

The Josephine L. Schwarz papers were processed by Carolyn Macchia in 1995.

Guide to the Josephine L. Schwarz papers, 1905-1999
Carolyn Macchia
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360