Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Betty Lynd Thompson Papers, 1916-1980

Biographical Note:

Dance professor Betty Lynd Thompson came to Oregon State College in 1927 to teach dance in the Department of Physical Education for Women. Until 1945, she taught all dance classes -- modern, folk, square, tap, and ballroom -- as well as basic rhythm and movement. As other dance faculty were added to the department, she was able to concentrate on her major interest of creative dance. She wrote a college textbook for dance instruction, Fundamentals of Rhythm and Dance, which was published in 1933. In 1931, she founded the Oregon State chapter of Orchesis, the modern dance honorary.

Thompson earned a B.A. in English Literature from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1923 and an M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1926 with an emphasis in modern creative dance. She later pursued intensive training in the studios of master artists in New York, including Martha Graham, who became a friend as well as mentor.

She became interested in ceramics in the 1940s while volunteering with the USO and began to sculpt small figurines of dancers after studying ceramics at the University of Washington for one term. She referred to this work as "danceramics".

Thompson retired from teaching in 1972. On her 83rd birthday, colleagues and friends organized a celebration, during which she danced on stage. She died a month later on March 2, 1985.


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