Monthly archives: May, 2023

An Afternoon With…A Look at African American Cookbooks from the 1800s

There are only four known African American cookbooks published in the 1800s.  Robert Robert’s “The House Servant’s Directory,” published in 1827, and Tunis G. Campbell’s “The Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and Housekeeper’s Guide,” published in 1848, are the only two known hospitality guides published by African Americans before the Civil War.  While not traditional cookbooks, they do contain recipes.  Malinda Russell’s “A Domestic Cook Book,” published in 1866, and Abby Fisher’s “What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking,” published in 1881, are the only known cookbooks published by African American women in the 1800s.

This summer, the Lakeport Plantation Museum offers an exploration of these books and their authors.  Each event will include tasting recipes from the featured author prepared by Café Dat Taste of New Orleans based in Greenville, Mississippi.

June 10, from 3:30 to 5:00, will feature “The House Servant’s Directory” by Robert Roberts and Tunis G. Campbell’s “The Hotel Keepers, Head Waiters, and Housekeeper’s Guide.”
Participants will learn about each author’s life, hear cleaning tips from the 1800s, and try 5 recipes from Campbell’s guidebook.  To purchase tickets, click here.

July 8, from 3:30 to 5:00, will feature Malinda Russell’s “A Domestic Cookbook.” This self-published cookbook features a variety of cake and pastry recipes.
Participants will learn what is known about Ms. Russell’s life, efforts to learn more about her, and sample five of her recipes.  To purchase tickets, click here.

August 5, from 3:30 to 5:00, will feature “What Ms. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking” by Abby Fisher.  Formerly enslaved in South Carolina, Ms. Fisher was a pickle manufacturer living in California during the 1880s when she published her cookbook in 1881.
Participants will learn about Ms. Fisher’s life and sample five recipes from her cookbook.  To purchase tickets, click here.

Space is limited.  Each event will be held in the Lakeport Plantation Museum’s Dining Room.  Participants will be able to view the house before and after each event.
Tickets for each event are $35 for members and $40 for non-members.
Admission to all three events can be purchased for $90 by calling the museum at 870-265-6031, Monday to Saturday from 9 – 3:30.


Literature at Lakeport – “Barracoon” and “The Last Slave Ship” Book Discussions

Join us to discuss two books focused on the Clotilda, the last slave ship in the United States.

On June 15, from 5:30 to 6:30, we will discuss Zora Neale Hurston’s book Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.”  In 1927, Hurston traveled to Alabama to interview Cudjo Lewis, one of the last survivors of the slave ship Clotilda.  Hurston recorded Cudjo’s story in his own words and her manuscript was not published until 2018.
From the publisher, Amistad,

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama, to visit eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, a survivor of the “Clotilda,” the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey.  Illegally brought to the United States, Lewis was enslaved fifty years after the slave trade was outlawed.  At the time, Cudjo, was the only known person alive who could recount this integral part of the nation’s history.



On July 20, from 5:30 to 6:30, we will discuss Ben Raines’ book The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How “Clotilda” Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning. Raines discovered the wreckage of the Clotilda in 2019.
From the publisher, Simon and Schuster,

Fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed, the “Clotida” became the last ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States.  The ship was burned and remained hidden for the next 160 years.  But in 2019, Ben Raines successfully concluded his obsessive quest to uncover one of our nation’s most important historical artifacts in the swamps of Alabama.



Participants will have the opportunity to discuss topics from the books and light refreshments will be served.
Copies of both books are available at libraries in the region.

For additional information or to register for this free event,
please call (870)-265-6031 or email