Person Jean Milligan 269

1886 – 1978
Areas of activity
  • Deviser of dances
  • Publisher of dance descriptions

The entry for Miss Milligan in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women reads:

… born Glasgow 9 July 1886, died Glasgow 28 July 1978. Inspirational teacher and advocate of traditional Scottish dance. Daughter of Isabella Aitchison, teacher and Dr. James Milligan LL. D. Rector, Glasgow High School for Girls.

The fifth of six children, Jean Milligan was educated at her father’s school subsequently qualifying in Physical Training at Kingsfield College, Dartford. Appointed Assistant Instructress at Dundas Vale Training College (subsequently Jordanhill), Glasgow in 1909, she immediately showed her interest in traditional dance and music. Saw war service as a VAD nurse in Malta. Appointed Principal Instructress in Physical Training at Jordanhill, and, until her retirement from that post in 1948, had an influential role in the national provision and development of physical education in Scotland.

In 1923, she met Mrs Ysobel Stewart of Fasnacloich (n. Campbell of Inverneill, 1882-1968), Head of Training for Girl Guides in Scotland who was keen to promote Scottish Country Dancing among young people. With others, they convened a meeting in Glasgow in November 1923 when the Scottish Country Dance Society was formed. With Miss Milligan as its principal teacher and technical adviser, the Society produced books of dance instruction, devised a teacher-training programme through its branches and founded a Summer School at St Andrews which, except for wartime, has been held annually since 1927 and now hosts some 1,000 dancers. Compiled the popular 101 Scottish Country Dances and a manual of Country Dancing – Won’t You Join the Dance.

After the Second World War, she promoted Scottish Country Dancing throughout the world, travelling extensively to support and encourage new branches of the Society. By the 80th Anniversary in 2003, the, by now, Royal Scottish Country Dance Society comprised 166 branches and 448 affiliated groups in 41 countries.

In 1973, voted The Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year and in 1977 Aberdeen University conferred on her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. The Earl of Mansfield summarised her neatly as »a woman with a vision and with the ability and tenacity to grasp it and make it become reality«. (in MacFadyen & Adams, 1983 p.7)

For a full biography of Miss Milligan see Dance with your Soul by Dr Alastair MacFadyen and Mrs Florence H Adams published by RSCDS

Dance(s) Collected by Miss Milligan Dance(s) Collected by Miss Milligan Jean Milligan 0