June 14,1956: First Debutant Ball in Winston-Salem

Debutant Ball

On this day in 1956, the first Debutant Ball was held in Winston-Salem.  The premier event was held at Forsyth Country Club.  The club was decorated with flowers and trees, and a summer house was placed at one end of the ballroom.

The ball opened at 10:00 pm, when Ralph Hanes began the introduction of the 22 debutants.  The women were dressed in white ballgowns and carried white chantilly lace fans sprinkled with mother of pearl sequins and miniature roses.  As each woman was introduced, she walked across the ballroom and was met by her father or sponsor.  When all of the women were introduced, the chief marshalls entered and the first dance of the ball began.

Music for the ball was played by Lester Lanning and his orchestra of New York City.  A buffet dinner was served at midnight.

Before the event was held in Winston-Salem, debutants and their families traveled to Raleigh for their presentation to society.

The debutants and their escorts participated in many social events in the days and weeks surrounding the ball.  The women were between the ages of 18 and 21 years old.

The women featured in the photo are, front row: Elizabeth Lindsay Fenwick, Margaret Wright Boaz, Shannon Elizabeth Harper, Sara Brooks Pullen, Nancy Bailey Graves, Mary Kirk Shepherd, Betsy Main Babcock, Mary Louise Hill, Jane Harrell Irby, and Florence Fearrington.  The women on the back row are: Mary Irving Carlyle, Sallie Millis Hunter, Alice Seely Eller, Murrianne Tinker, Sylvia Marie Ferrell, Charlotte Critz Harper, Susan Spottswood Taylor, Louise Graham, Elizabeth Ann Hightower, Evelyn Hanes Moore, Elizabeth Frances Hart, and Nancy Kent Hill.

To see other photos of the ball, look at www.digitalforsyth.org.

Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

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