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W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library Manuscript Collections

Guide to the Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book MSS.0111


University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487-0266

September 2013


This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-09-30T12:04-0500

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Collection Title:

Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book

Unit ID:



University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


0.2 Linear feet (2 items, 2 pieces)


Circa 1848-1865


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


Banks, Martha Jane Coleman, 1833-1868

Scope and Contents note

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.

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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

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Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


American poetry--19th century (lcsh)

Clippings (information artifacts) (aat)

Columbus (Miss.) (lcsh)

Commonplace books (aat)

Cooking, American--Southern style (lcsh)

Daily Life and Family (localbroad)

Formulas, recipes, etc. (lcsh)

Gardening (lcsh)

Mississippi (lcsh)

Slavery (lcsh)

Southern Life and Culture (localbroad)

Women (localbroad)

Martha Jane Coleman Banks commonplace book Box 15