Guide to the Ruth Westerman Papers and Photographs, 1943-2007

Rauh Jewish Archives

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Ruth Westerman Papers and Photographs
Creator
Ruth Westerman
Collection Number
MSS 710
Date [inclusive]
1943-2007
Extent
4 linear feet (1 box, 2 shelf volumes and 1 oversized folder)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Abstract
Ruth Westerman was a dancer and a dance teacher in Pittsburgh. She performed with the now defunct Contemporary Dance Association (CDA), and she taught at the Arts and Crafts Center, now the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. In 1986, she developed Silver Motion, a program for teaching creative movement to elderly adults. Materials in the collection include news clippings, programs, photographs and correspondence.

Preferred Citation

Ruth Westerman Papers and Photographs, 1943-2007, MSS #710, Rauh Jewish Archives, Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

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History

Ruth Westerman was a dancer and a dance teacher in Pittsburgh. She was born on April 1, 1929, in Detroit, to Max C. and Belle (Levin) Levy, who decided to return to Pittsburgh when Westerman was a toddler. Her lifelong passion for dance began when she started taking dance classes at age four and continued while she studied at, and later taught at, the Genevieve Jones Dance Studio. Westerman continued to pursue her interest in dance by majoring in physical education at the University of Pittsburgh, by performing with the Pitt Players at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and by dancing with the CDA. After graduating from college in 1951, she taught physical education at Wightman Elementary School while performing with the CDA and teaching dance classes at the Arts and Crafts Center. The CDA disbanded in the early 1950s, but Westerman continued to teach at the Center and later at Dance Alloy, a professional modern dance company in Pittsburgh.

After forty years of performing and teaching dance to children, Westerman became interested in teaching creative movement to the elderly, as a way to provide interesting physical exercise that would improve their lives. Her interest led her to develop Silver Motion, a program of creative movement for elderly adults in which teenagers participate. Westerman taught workshops herself and taught caregivers at adult daycare centers and nursing homes how to lead the program without her. She promoted Silver Motion at conferences on aging across the country.

While teaching dance, Westerman raised a family and participated in other activities. She married Robert Westerman on December 23, 1954. They had three children: Jeffrey, Mark and Diane. She is currently married to J. Robert Myers. Her other activities included serving on the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Dance Council and researching and presenting the history of Frank and Seder’s Department Store where her uncle Abe Seder was president.

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Scope and Content Notes

The collection is stored in one archival box, two shelf volumes, and one oversized folder and is arranged into five series: History, Performing, Teaching, Photographs and Oversize Materials. The Teaching series is divided into two groups: Children’s Classes and Silver Motion. The Photographs series is divided into two groups except for the first five folders. The groups are Children’s Classes and Silver Motion. Materials in the collection include class plans, class rolls, a scrapbook depicting her performing career, Silver Motion promotional materials, correspondence, newspaper clippings and photographs.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Rauh Jewish Archives Senator John Heinz History Center Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania , March 2012

Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412-454-6364
library@heinzhistorycenter.org
http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/libraryArchives.aspx

Restrictions on Access

None

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ruth Westerman in December 2011.

Acquisition #2011.0330

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly J. Smith in February 2012.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Arts and Crafts Center of Pittsburgh
  • Carnegie Magazine (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Martha Graham Dance Company
  • Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
  • Syria Mosque (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Contemporary Dance Association
  • Genevieve Jones Dance Studio (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Silver Motion
  • Pitt Players (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Westerman, Ruth b. 1929 -
  • Muskerji, Rose
  • Seder, Isaac

Subject(s)

  • Dance -- Education
  • Dance -- History --Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Dance for children
  • Dance for the aged
  • Arts -- American -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Jews -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

Series I.  History 1947-2007 

Scope and Content Notes

The History series consists of three folders. Materials include the January/February and the March/April 1985 editions of Carnegie Magazine in which there is a two-part history of dance in Pittsburgh, two programs for Martha Graham Dance Company performances in Pittsburgh, and Westerman’s notes on the Seder family, as well as a memorial booklet that documents Isaac Seder’s life.

  BoxFolder
 1985 11
  Folder
Performance Programs 1947 2
  Folder
Seder Family History 1997-2007 3
  Folder
Cassette recording of the  1997 4

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Series II.  Performing 1943-1952 

Scope and Content Notes

The Performing series consists of two folders and a scrapbook. Most of the contents in the first folder are glued to scrapbook pages that had been removed from a scrapbook. An intact scrapbook that has been photocopied, with both copies and scrapbook included in the collection. The materials include news clippings, programs, four issues of the Junior Y Weekly from 1943, and an issue of the  Laurel Log from 1948. Documented in the series are Westerman’s performances with the CDA and the Pitt Players, her activities at Schenley High School and the YMWHA, and her teaching at the Arts and Crafts Center.

  Folder
High School and College 1943-1952 5
  Folder
Scrapbook Copies 1949-1951 6

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Series III.  Teaching 1952-2000 

Scope and Content Notes

The Teaching series is in twenty-two folders and one shelf volume and is divided into three groups: Children’s Classes, Projects and Silver Motion. Materials include Arts and Crafts Center catalogs, newspaper clippings, notes, class rolls, class plans, cassette tapes of music she used for Silver Motion workshops, correspondence, Ruth Westerman’s biographical information, resumes, a proposal for a children’s dance television series, Silver Motion lesson plan and objectives, fliers and catalogs for conferences at which Westerman presented Silver Motion, and a report describing the origin of Silver Motion. Of note is a copy of Fundamentals of a Dance Education by Ted Shawn. Some of the notebooks in which she wrote class plans also include class rolls. A photo album in this series includes Silver Motion correspondence, Westerman’s resume, fliers and photographs of workshops. The materials in this series document Westerman’s methods of teaching of both children and adults, as well as the creation and promotion of Silver Motion.

Section: Children's Classes 

  Folder
Arts and Crafts Center Catalogs 1951-1973 7
Class Plans 
  Folder
1952-1966 8
  Folder
1967-1982 9
  Folder
Class Rolls 1969-1993 10
  Folder
Correspondence 1970 11
  Folder
Lecture/Demonstrations 1969-1975 12
  Folder
News Clippings 1969-1973 13
  Folder
Programs 1973 14
  Folder
Teaching Materials 1937-1974 15

Section: Projects 

  Folder
Children’s Book Proposal 1974 16
  Folder
Book for Dance Teachers Undated 17
  Folder
Title XX Training Project Proposal Undated 18
  Folder
WQED Proposal 1974 19

Section: Silver Motion 

  Folder
Conference Catalogs and Fliers 1986-1996 20
  Folder
Correspondence 1986-1991 21
  Folder
Music Cassettes Undated 22
  Folder
News Clippings 1986-1989 23
  Folder
Promotional Materials 1987-1991 24
  Folder
Reference Materials 1985-1987 25
  Folder
Teaching Materials 1990 26
  Folder
Trademark 1986 27
  Folder
Workshop Fliers 1990-2000 28

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Series IV.  Photographs 1946-2000 

Scope and Content Notes

The Photographs series is in thirteen folders. With the exception of the first five folders in the series, there are two groups, Children’s Classes and Silver Motion. Included in these two groups are photographs of children dancing in class and of adults participating in the Silver Motion program. One series of photographs are matted for exhibit purposes at Silver Motion workshops. Other photographs document Westerman’s presentation of Frank and Seder department store, her trips to New York City to study with Martha Graham as a teen, and studio portraits showing her in various dance poses..

  Folder
Dance Poses 1946-1949 29
  Folder
Merchant Princes of Pittsburgh 1997-2007 30
  Folder
New York 1949 31
  Folder
Rose Mukerji 1950 32
  Folder
Teachers c. 1950 33

Section: Children's Classes 

  Folder
Arts and Crafts Center 1949-1984 34
  Folder
Dance Alloy at the Carnegie Institute 1990-1994 35

Section: Silver Motion 

  Folder
American Society on Aging Conference in Utah 1987 36
  Folder
American Society on Aging Conference in Washington DC 1989 37
  Folder
Council Care 1987 38
  Folder
Elderhostel Farewell Dinner 1990 39
  Folder
Exhibit 1986-2000 40
  Folder
Senior Adult Care Workshop 1989 41

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Series V.  Oversize Materials 1949 

Scope and Content Notes

The October 1949 issue of Holiday features Pittsburgh and includes a photograph of Ruth Westerman and other dancers.

  Folder
 1949 1

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