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Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book

Identifier: MSS-0111

Scope and Contents

The Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book contains diary entries, miscellaneous writings (some appear to be school related), newspaper clippings, recipes, and poems. There is also a typed transcription of the book, which was perhaps provided by the donor.

The commonplace book includes recipes for various types of wines, such as muscadine, scupadine [scuppernong], and blackberry; cured ham; fish sauce; various puddings; yeast; rolls; various jellies; muffins, breads, biscuits, and wafers; dried tomatoes; rum punch; chicken salad; chow chow; gumbo soup; potato custard; croquettes of rice; vinegar; soft gingerbread; and others. She also has recipes for various cakes, including cream cakes and boiled cake; Boston Kisses, which are simply butter and sugar; Floating Island, which is similar to a pudding; Lady Cakes; Mountain Cake; Silver Cake, Flannel Cake, and others. There are also clippings about cooking and general housekeeping.


  • Circa 1848-1865


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Biographical/Historical note

Martha Jane Coleman Banks was born in Eutaw, Alabama, on April 23, 1833, to John Coleman (1781-1863) and Rhoda Cobb (1791-1863). She graduated from the Mesopotamia Female Seminary in 1848. She married James Oliver Banks in 1852. James Banks was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on September 6, 1829, to Willis Banks (1791-1852) and Mary Gray (1797-1857). After their wedding, John and Martha Jane lived on a plantation in Columbus, Mississippi, and according to the commonplace book, they had at least seventy-eight slaves. Martha Jane and James had four children together: Mary Gray (1853-1912); Willis Alston (1857-1934); John Coleman (1855-1856); and James Oliver (1865-1941). Martha Jane died on February 29, 1868, and was buried in Grassdale Cemetery in Eutaw, Alabama. After her death, James married Lucy Watkins Young and had six more children. James Oliver Banks died on November 10, 1904, in Columbus, Mississippi.

Sources:;;; Jacobson, Kimberly R. and Greene County Historical Society, Greene County and Mesopotamia Cemetery (Images of America: Alabama),Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2007


0.075 Linear Feet (2 items, 2 pieces)

Language of Materials



Commonplace book containing diary entries, recipes, miscellaneous writings, newspaper clippings, and poems; created by Martha Jane Coleman Banks of Columbus, Mississippi.



Processed by

Unknown; updated by Donnelly Walton 2013
Guide to the Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book
September 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266