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Treasure 79: Cosmo Mitchell Collection
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Treasure 79: Cosmo Mitchell Collection

Historic Documents
David Oswald
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Treasure 79: Cosmo Mitchell Collection
Historic Documents
Treasure 79: Cosmo Mitchell Collection
Adam "Cosmo" Mitchell was born at Kennethmont in 1860. Raised on a croft, little is known of his early childhood but by the age of 21, he had become a dancing master teaching in several areas near his home.

By the end of 1881, Mitchell had brought his dance classes to Aberdeen. Using rooms in the Music Hall for instruction, he taught children and adults in increasingly popular classes.

His professional associations with local schools, as well as local, regional and international societies, also helped strengthen his professional reputation and furthered his integrity as an authority on dancing and, by 1895-6, he was creating his own dances.

Mitchell joined the newly-formed Imperial Society of Dance Teachers in 1904. By the following year, he had been elected as vice-president and continued to be re-elected in that post for many years.

In 1915, Mitchell published A Guide to Ballroom Dancing. In 1919, Mitchell's wife died. A key part of his business life, the loss of his wife led to the immediate cessation of his teaching in schools. By 1924, he had retired from teaching altogether. Mitchell died in 1932 and bequeathed his entire professional library of dance textbooks, notebooks and ephemera to Aberdeen City Libraries.

Our Treasure showcases some of the items from this collection. Patricia Ballantyne produced a thesis on the development of Scottish dance, utilising much of the Cosmo Mitchell collection. Her thesis Regulation and Reaction is available to view in the Information Centre. It is largely due to her research that we are able to explore the life of this little-known local celebrity.

Find out about the marketing ploys adopted by Mitchell, and the origins of his middle name, in the Treasures from our Collections interactive exhibition on the touchscreens in Central, Airyhall, Tillydrone and Mastrick libraries.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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