Edward Archibald Milligan was born June 14, 1903, at Michigan, North Dakota, the son of Robert and Emma (von Evers Gennamt Behme) Milligan. He attended Mayville Teachers College in 1927 and then became a teacher of history and anthropology at the North Dakota School of Forestry in Bottineau, North Dakota, from 1927 to 1934. Milligan conducted archaeological and ethnological research among American Indians in North Dakota from 1934 to 1940.
He served in the U.S. Army from November 1942 to September 1945. Milligan served in the European theater, receiving the Bronze Star, and separated at the rank of Sergeant. Afterwards, he attended the University of North Dakota, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1947. He also obtained a Master of Science in Education in 1948. From 1948 to 1972, he was head of social sciences and instructor at North Dakota State University in Bottineau. From 1972 to 1977, Milligan was curriculum coordinator of the Turtle Mountain School of Paramedical Technology in Bottineau.
Milligan's teaching, writing, and research centered around the history of American Indians in general, and the tribes of North Dakota in particular. In pursuit of this interest, he participated in several archaeological excavations in the Upper Midwest. He also served in an official capacity on several boards and commissions, including the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission.
Other interests of Milligan included the American Legion, the Timberwolves (104th Infantry) Association, Sondre Norheim, and the North Dakota State Historical Board.
Edward Milligan died in 1977.
The Edward A. Milligan Papers, 1874-1977, have been divided into seven series:
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Personal Materials
Series 3: Native American Materials
Series 4: Manuscripts
Series 5: Newspaper Clippings
Series 6: Photographs
Series 7: Oversize Materials