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Branch Formation and Incorporation

The formation of a Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society in the San Francisco Bay Area was first suggested by Miss Jean C Milligan, one of the founders of the Society, when she visited the Reel and Strathspey Club during the week of October 16th, 1961. On December 3rd an Executive Committee meeting was called by Club President David Barnes at the home of C Stuart Smith during which the first recorded discussions of the idea were held. That meeting was attended by Phil and Juanita Aldrich, David Barnes, Fred Macondray, C Stewart and J Smith, Gloria Hetherington, George Luiz, Walter McAdam, Marvin Hatfield, Ada Harris, Barbara Briggs, Nancy McWilliams, And Ron Mortimer. A number of doubts were expressed especially concerning the differences between the Club's current practices and RSCDS requirements such as the Club's permanent Director, its restricted membership and its method of collecting dues. It was agreed, however, that David Barnes would write a letter for Phil to sign requesting permission from RSCDS headquarters to form a Branch. In late December a reply was received from Miss Hadden, Secretary of the Society, expressing her enthusiasm for the project but pointed out that permission could not be granted until the matter had been reviewed by the Society's General Purposes Committee, which would be done at its next meeting in May. When nothing further was heard by early June, David Barns, Club President, wrote to Headquarters and was informed that the General Purposes Committee had not met and the matter had missed the agenda for the Executive Council Meeting that had been held; but the delay was only temporary. A letter, dated August 11, 1962 was received from the RSCDS Secretary granting permission to form a Branch. Work on a constitution for the proposed Branch was begun in November or December of 1962.

Because of the uncertainties arising out of Stewart Smith's formation of a separate demonstration team, a request for a one year postponement was sent to Headquarters in January of 1963. A draft of a tentative constitution was submitted for review, however. 1964 saw further discussion among the officers and members at an Executive committee meeting on April 12th and regular meetings on April 20th and May 11th. All that came from these meetings was agreement to write to Scotland once again for clarification on one or two points.

No further mention of the proposed Branch occurs in the minutes until May 12, 1965 when the subject was thoroughly discussed at a general meeting. It was agreed that an expected visit by Miss Milligan in October made it desirable that something further be done. Several letters were exchanged with Headquarters primarily to be sure that the permission to organize a Branch granted earlier was still valid. Local leaders were assured that it was. Invitations were sent to all interested parties to a meeting to be sponsored by the Reel and Strathspey Club at its regular meeting place on Monday July 12th with the objective of forming a Branch. At an Executive Committee meeting on July 7th the proposed constitution for the new Branch was discussed, and a slate of officers was proposed, pending their approval, as follows:


Fred Macondray

Vice chairman

Fred Sommers


Alice Macondray


Roger Stephens

Board members:

Walter McAdam


George Bogart


Dick Gotcher


Marion Stanley

The July 12th meeting did in fact result in a positive vote to form the San Francisco Branch, election of the proposed slate of officers, and acceptance of the proposed constitution; but it was not at all apparent that the new Branch could reunite the three Scottish Country Dance groups in the Bay area. Almost immediately Dick Gotcher and George Bogart resigned from the new board and were replaced by John Dymond and Alfred Peet. The Branch was born, but its future was still somewhat uncertain. The first Executive Council meeting on August 1, 1965 was devoted largely to reassuring Stewart's team of the Branch's good intentions and attempting to correct what the team saw as deficiencies in the operation of the Reel and Strathspey Club. Lafayette Class, the third operating group, expressed its intention to become an official Branch class. Walter McAdam volunteered to act as a mediator between the team and Branch.

The Reel and Strathspey Club continued to operate as a separate entity for some months, but on November 29, 1965 voted 26 to 6 (13 to 0 at the meeting and 10 to 6 later by mail) to disband the Club and merge it into the Branch effective January 1, 1966 subject to the provision that after a one year trial the Club members could withdraw and recover the assets it was turning over to the Branch. No move was initiated to make such a withdrawal and the union became irrevocable. The classes conducted by the Reel and Strathspey Club were continued as Branch Classes but were soon disbanded due to lack of numbers.

The San Francisco Scottish Country Dance Society Demonstration Team after much discussion produced an agreement to merge with the Branch which provided for establishment of a Team subcommittee, autonomy for the Team director, separate accounting of Team funds, and withdrawal if other provisions were not met. The Branch Committee agreed to the stipulated conditions, and the Team voted on September 22, 1965 to merge. The first Team subcommittee appointed at the September 26th meeting was John Dymond, Stewart Smith and Walter McAdam. It was agreed that the Team's conditions would be reviewed after a year's trial. Whether or not the Team ever held a formal review is not recorded, but relations with the Board were evidently satisfactory since the Team never withdrew. It disbanded some years later and was eventually reborn as the Red Thistle Dancers.

Lafayette Class continued to operate as a Branch Class. Although no formal recognition as such was made until 1973 when the recognition process was formalized, early Branch Committee minutes refer to Lafayette as a Branch Class. It is still in operation - the only class in continuous operation since the Branch's inception.

Incorporation as a non-profit organization was first discussed informally among Board members as early as 1970. The first formal Board discussion occurred at the Committee Meeting of 21 March 1971. Hillis Newcomb and George Patrick were appointed to look into the matter. By January of 1972, after much discussion back & forth, Headquarters’ consent was finally given, but progress bogged down in the details. By December of 1972 the Board decided that the discussion should be taken to the general membership to avoid any confusion as to what was to take place, and a meeting was held in March with the Class Managers. Part of the delay was due to the need to rewrite the Constitution as Articles of Incorporation and a set of Bylaws. A first draft of the Articles of Incorporation was ready by 4 May 1973. The Articles of Incorporation and a set of Bylaws were adopted at the Annual General Meeting held at All Souls Church in Berkeley on 19 May 1973 (see Appendix A). They were filed with the State of California on 21 August 1973.

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The tartan displayed in the background is the RSCDS Tartan designed by David Normand-Harris,
past member of the RSCDS Executive Committee and the San Francisco Branch.