Papers of Bobby Watson

Scope and Content

The collection is extensive, and detailed listing is on-going. In summary, it comprises personal papers, 1936 - 1991; correspondence (personal and professional), 1951 - 1996; dance records (instruction sheets, manuals, notes, lectures, classes, examination material, dance adjudication, dance associations and societies), 1950s - 1990s; programmes (Highland games, festivals and workshops, balls and dinner dances, concerts and displays, shows), 1950s - 1990s; television, film and radio scripts,1950s - 1990s ; newspaper cuttings, 1920s - 1990s; photographs (3 boxes, unsorted and undated); audio recordings (unsorted and undated); film recordings, 1950s - 1960s; music (unsorted and undated); gramophone records (various styles, including classical, Scottish, jazz, modern dance/ big band), n.d.; travel (maps, travel handbooks), 1950s - 1980s; catalogues, technical handbooks and related material (unsorted and undated); other publications collected (including dancing, piping, Scottish interest and other magazines) (unsorted and undated)

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert (Bobby) Watson was born in Aberdeen on 21 Apr 1914. He began Highland dancing at the age of 2, and won his first dance medal when he was just 3 years old. He went on to win numerous awards, including the world championship, and on the back of this success became a leading teacher and competition adjudicator of international acclaim. He established his own dance school, the Watson School of Dancing, in Aberdeen, in 1947, where he taught until a year before his death. He served as a judge at the Braemar Royal Highland Games for over 50 years, and from 1948, at the request of King George VI, taught Highland dance to local children in the Ballater and Braemar area. He was an instructor at the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society's Summer School at St Andrews University for over 25 years. His name is perhaps best known through his frequent television appearances on The White Heather Club and The Kilt is my Delight. He died in Aberdeen on 9 Nov 1997.


As described in Scope and Content

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Purchased from the executors of Robert and Claire Mavis Watson (his widow) by the University of Aberdeen in Sept 1999, with assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions, administered with Government funds by the National Museums of Scotland.

Other Finding Aids

Summary list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail:

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

This material was held in Bobby Watson's dance studio in Aberdeen until transferred to the University of Aberdeen in 1999.


No further accruals expected

Related Material

The papers described here are complemented by the Bobby Watson museum collection, held by Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen.

Photocopies of items in his possession donated by Mats Melin, The Scottish Traditions of Dance Trust, 2000 (GB 231 MS 3650)


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original