Looking for reliable sources on the history of vernacular jazz dance can sometimes be a tough process. Thankfully the ability to easily order books online has made it quite a bit easier to find these less-than-common books.
The first book I recommend for anyone looking to learn more about the history of the dance is Frankie Mannings autobiography, Ambassador of Lindy Hop, released earlier this year. While it may not be a comprehensive look at the development of jazz dance as a whole, it is the most inviting to the casual reader. Frankie Manning is an innovator and pioneer in the lindy hop community and has helped return the dance from a lost art to the strong and growing community it is now. It has a colloquial ease; full of anecdotes and memories of ballrooms and bands from the jazz era that make it hard to put down. It was co-authored by Cynthia Millman and there are small sidebars throughout the book with historical snippets on locations and various dances.
For a more historical perspective on the development of vernacular jazz dance Marshall Stearns Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance is a good choice. It lays out the history of the dance in a slightly haphazard manner from buck dancing and minstrel shows to the dance crazes of the twenties including charleston, black bottom, turkey trot and moves into the development of lindy hop and tap. It is more academic in nature than Frankie Manning’s book including Laban movement notation on how to perform various steps. There is also a companion book on the history of Jazz music by Marshall Stearns which follows a similar method in examining the development of jazz as a musical tradition.