Mixtie Maxties and Trimlin’ Tams*

A new collaborative project has opened up access to the archives of the Alloa Burns Club

Originally established in 1827 as the Alloa Tripe Club, the Alloa Burns Club today holds its annual Burns Supper which celebrates the life and poetry of Robert Burns on, or close to, the 25 January (Burns Night). The archives of the Club date back to 1849 and provide a detailed record of both the annual Burns Suppers and its wider cultural and charitable activities.

A collaborative project between the Alloa Burns Club, Clackmannanshire Council Archives and the University of Stirling Archives has catalogued and digitised the archives of the Club which include minutes, histories and the menus for the annual Burns Suppers. The digitisation was carried out by a student on the university’s Putting Arts and Humanities to Work module who gained hands-on experience using the university’s new ScanStudio. Following digitisation the physical documents were transferred to Clackmannanshire Council Archives for permanent storage with the digitised content being made available online via the university’s Culture on Campus website.

As a foreigner, I found the project very interesting, because up to this point I did not have any awareness of the Scottish culture of the mid to late 19th century outside the big two urban centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Reading the documents can provide great insight into Alloa’s cultural life in the second part of the 19th and 20th centuries. This was the first occasion when I participated in a historic project of this kind. Throughout the project, I believe I have developed skills that would mainly apply to working in archives such as digitising records and effectively communicating with the other members of the team.

Kolja Sirok, Putting Arts and Humanities to Work student

The project highlights the potential of the #StirScanStudio to support the opening up of heritage across the Forth Valley Region. The detailed minutes of the Alloa Burns Club provide a record of the local individuals involved in organising and celebrating the annual events, and trace how the Club developed from a ‘Tripe Club’ which was ‘composed of a few congenial companions’ whose suppers were ‘spent in joyous harmony with songs, recitations and stories’ to a Club which specifically celebrated and promoted the life and poetry of Robert Burns.

Detail from entry in minute book from 1912 noting the change in name to The Alloa Burns Club (ref. PD261/1/2)

We are delighted to see the completion of this project which will allow access to the records, activities and rich history of the Alloa Burns Club. It will also ensure the safe keeping of these valuable and unique documents for the future.

Duncan Sloan, Secretary, Alloa Burns Club

The menus for the annual suppers, which begin in 1927, show how the traditions around the celebration of Burns Night changed and developed over the years, with the ‘Chieftan O’ the Puddin’ Race’ (haggis) remaining at the centre of events. These records of cultural celebration are now available online for academic researchers, local historians and those interested in planning their own Burns Supper…

*’Mixtie Maxties’ are a jumbled or confused mixture. At the Burns supper this described a selection of ‘nibbles’ and biscuits. ‘Trimlin Tams’ is a wobbly trembling table jelly.

archives Written by: