C288_D.31 | The Charity Ball in aid of the Montreal Maternity Hospital

Dance card
The Charity Ball in aid of the Montreal Maternity Hospital
1922, 20th century
Ink on card
12.6 x 6.2 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Dance card (154)
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Keys to History

Most philanthropic associations were subscription-based voluntary societies that were then incorporated for legal purposes. Members paid annual fees. This method, which enabled individuals without large private fortunes to undertake philanthropic work collectively, substantially increased the volume of philanthropy. Fund-raising events provided a way by which this circle of support could be widened even further. One of the most popular of these was the Charity Ball. This is a dance card from one such ball. Some dance cards were works of art, but those produced for charity events tended to be simple. The front of the card served to advertise the charity itself by listing the names of important citizens associated with the group either as members or as patronesses. The inside listed the dances and left space for the cardholder to include the corresponding partners for the evening. The small hole at the bottom was to allow the cardholder to tie on a pencil.

  • What

    This Charity Ball was in support of the Montreal Maternity Hospital, which had existed since 1843.

  • Where

    The Charity Ball announced on this dance card was to take place at the Windsor, one of Montreal's fanciest hotels at the time.

  • When

    For the associations and charities that used this fund-raising method, the Charity Ball tended to be an annual event so that it would become a regular part of the social calendar.

  • Who

    The Charity Ball was a lucrative form of fund-raising designed to attract members of the bourgeoisie to an evening of eating and dancing. It involved substantial effort to organize.