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

Arkansas Archeology Society Cistern Screening, February 18, 2023

Join the Arkansas Archeological Survey – UAM Research Station and Arkansas State University Heritage Studies for a cistern screening day in Lake Village, AR on Saturday, February 18, 2023 from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. Participants will help screen for artifacts from a cistern which was used to collect rain water in the late 1800s to early 1900s.  Please meet at the Lakeport Plantation Visitor’s Center located at 601 Highway 142, Lake Village, AR 71653.

All volunteers will be trained on how to screen for artifacts. Please wear boots and work gloves.

Please be prepared for various weather conditions. Gloves, boots, hats, water, bug spray, and sunscreen are recommended.

For additional information, please call 870-265-6031 or email Ruth O’Loughlin at

Lakeport Plantation’s 15th Anniversary Weekend, September 2-4, 2022

Join us in celebrating Lakeport Plantation’s 15th Anniversary as an Arkansas State University Heritage Site with a weekend of visiting with old friends and making new ones!

Click here for information on local accommodations.

Schedule Overview

Friday, September 2, 2022
-4:30 p.m.-Portrait unveiling of Lycurgus and Lydia’s restored 1858 Cogswell portraits.
-5:00-7:00 p.m.-Lakeport Libations with “A Taste of the Sites”-enjoy drinks and snacks from each of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites:  Hemingway-Pfeiffer Home, Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, Lakeport Plantation, and the Southern Tenant Farmer’s Museum.  Live music by “Delta String Band.”

Saturday, September 3, 2022
-9:15 a.m.-Welcome
-10:00 a.m.-Research Update from Dr. Tom DeBlack
-11:15 a.m.-Area Archeology Talk with Dr. Matthew Rooney, Arkansas Archeological Survey
-12:00 p.m.-Barbeque Lunch
-1:30 p.m.-Chicot County Then and Now
-2:30 p.m.-Director’s Update
-3:00 p.m.-Group Photo
-5:00 p.m.-Alligator Tails and Cocktails at Lake Chicot State Park-enjoy drinks and light refreshments with some local reptiles.
-6:00-8:00 p.m.-Fried Catfish Dinner at Lake Chicot State Park

Sunday, September 2022
8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.-Lakeport Plantation House will be open for viewing
9:00 a.m.-Travel, on your own, to Rowher, Arkansas
10:00 a.m.-Visit Rowher Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery
10:45 a.m.-Travel, on your own, to Winchester, Arkansas
11:15 a.m.-Tour the Hollywood Plantation/Taylor House
12:00 p.m.-Lunch at Taylor House

Weekend Registration Includes
-Friday drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and live music
-Saturday refreshments, Lakeport talks, lunch, drinks, and dinner
-Sunday tours and lunch
-Lakeport Plantation Anniversary T-Shirt
Nonmembers – $150 per person
Members – $125 per person – Click here to join or renew membership – Please select “Other” and enter “Lakeport Plantation.”
Guests 17 & Under – $100 per person

Friday Evening Reception Only – September 2, 2022, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Nonmembers – $35 per person
Members – $30 per person – Click here to join or renew membership – Please select “Other” and enter “Lakeport Plantation.”

Saturday Cocktails and Dinner Only – September 3, 2022, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Nonmembers – $45 per person
Members – $40 per person – Click here to join or renew membership – Please select “Other” and enter “Lakeport Plantation.”

Tickets are limited.

For additional information, please call, 870-265-6031, or email,

Arkansas Archeological Society Field Survey at Lakeport Plantation

Join the Arkansas Archeological Survey – UAM Research Station and Arkansas State University Heritage Studies for a field survey at Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, AR March 18th and 19th for Archeology Month. The goal of the field survey is to find material evidence of the enslaved persons’ quarters. On Friday, March 18th from 1pm – 3pm, participants will have the opportunity to tour the Lakeport Plantation House before surveying the fields. On Saturday, March 19th from 9am – 3pm, participants will spend the day surveying the fields. Lunch will be provided for volunteers on Saturday, March 19th, but reservations for lunch are required. Please RSVP to Ruth O’Loughlin at by Thursday, March 17th if you plan to join us for lunch and let us know about any dietary restrictions. Please register at the Lakeport Plantation Visitor’s Center upon arrival.

All volunteers will be trained on how to conduct a field survey. If possible, please bring a round shovel. If you own a metal detector, please bring it with you.

Please be prepared for various weather conditions. Gloves, boots, hats, water, bug spray, and sunscreen are recommended.

For additional information, please call 870-265-6031 or email Ruth O’Loughlin at

Women of the Arkansas Delta Photography Exhibit

Women of the Arkansas Delta

“Women of the Arkansas Delta” is a photo exhibition and research project from The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff on display at the Lakeport Plantation Visitor’s Center January 3rd to April 1st.  The exhibit takes a look at a diverse selection of women from the Arkansas Delta region providing a snapshot of these women and their lives in the 1970s, and what happened to them afterward. It is made possible by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a sponsorship from Explore Pine Bluff.

“Women of the Arkansas Delta” is based on a 1976 oral and photographic project of the same name, conducted by the Pine Bluff Women’s Center. Through a grant by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, the project’s goal was to gather, preserve, and publish information about women of the Delta, their history, and lives.

The Pine Bluff Women’s Center Inc. was founded in 1975, and provided programs against violence toward women and in promotion of gender equality. The programs included career development, education, and assertiveness training. Leaders of the organization sought to have the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in the mid-1970s pass. The group dissolved in 1992 when several of the organization’s members and leaders moved outside the county, according to the University of Central Arkansas Archives. Becky Kilmer, a founder and leader of The Pine Bluff Women’s Center, donated the group’s records to the UCA Archives.

The group interviewed a wide range of women — African American and white— including social justice activists, farmers, and small business owners. They ranged in age from elderly to age 7.  The women shared their hopes and aspirations, their stories, and other minutiae of their daily lives. The changing economic and agricultural make-up of small-town Arkansas Delta is reflected in some of the interviews. Women’s changing status in society and increasing rights was also a frequent topic.

The resulting interviews and photographs were collected into a small book and published in December 1976.  From the introduction of the 1976 book: “What they told us revealed much about the development of the delta region over the past one hundred years. Many of the women remembered the effects of floods, segregation, hand labor in cotton fields, and introduction of motorized farm machinery, integration, and other economic changes.”

Other women interviewed “unfolded their own individual histories. Their story was important, too, in giving an accurate picture of what makes up a delta native.”

Fast forward four decades later.

Then-curator Dr. Lenore Shoults discovered photographs and original negatives from the project in ASC’s collection, and decided to curate a traveling exhibition surrounding the photographs. The first Women of the Arkansas Delta exhibition went on display at ASC in early spring 2019, and traveled to the Delta Cultural Center in Helena in 2020. Following feedback from the exhibition’s time at the Delta Cultural Center, Chaney Jewell, who succeeded Shoults as curator, began in 2020 to update the exhibition. “One of the consistent feedbacks I received about the original exhibition was, ‘OK, this is great information, these are wonderful photographs, this is a really intriguing piece of history. But what happened to the women?”

A grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a sponsorship from Explore Pine Bluff allowed for the exhibition to expand through additional research. The grant also covers costs for the exhibition to travel, allowing ASC to offer the Women of the Arkansas Delta to venues for free with no exhibition cost.

Cherrise Branch-Jones, Ph.D., of Jonesboro came on board to assist the research as the project’s humanities scholar. She is Dean of Arkansas State University’s Graduate School and the James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Endowed Professor of History. She is also the author of “Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina During and After World War II” (University Press of Florida, 2014), and “Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps: Black Women’s Activism in Rural Arkansas, 1914-1965,” published in April 2021 by University of Arkansas Press.

Jones-Branch is particularly knowledgeable about three of the women in the Women of the Arkansas Delta project: Maeleen Clay Arrant and Ethel B. Dawson of Pine Bluff, and Annie R. Zachary of Marvell. The three women, who were all activists, are subjects in Jones-Branch’s book “Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps.”

Updates to the Women of the Arkansas Delta project incorporate additional resources, such as the original interview recordings (which are stored at the University of Central Arkansas Archives in Conway) and new research.

“This new exhibition focused around researching the women and how they lived out the rest of their lives, past 1976,” Jewell explained. Finding out what happened to the women in the intervening years was extra challenging in that all but two of the women interviewed in 1976 have died, Jewell said.

Jewell and Branch-Jones used online research tools such as census data and, and interviewed family and friends of the women. Social media was an important tool as well, for locating and contacting living relatives and friends, Jewell explained. In the case of one of the women, Chanah Reid Foti, loved ones had set up a memorial Facebook page for her. “After posting an inquiry on the memorial page, I had about 10 people who responded and were interested in being interviewed,” Jewell said.

“It was interesting to go onto Facebook and find memorial pages and family members who are very eager to talk about these women,” Jewell said. “That’s one of the beautiful things about this project that I wasn’t expecting, family members being told that their mother, grandmother, aunt, sister made an impact, historically. And that their stories still want to be heard and want to be told. And how much that positively impacts not only the family, but the local community has been really great.”

The women from the 1976 project featured in the exhibition are:

  • Maeleen Clay Arrant of Pine Bluff
  • Ora Brown of Pine Bluff
  • Geneva Byrd of Tucker
  • Lucyle Cantley of Pine Bluff
  • June H. Davis of Altheimer
  • O. G. Dawson (Ethel B.) of Pine Bluff
  • Chanah Reid Foti (later LaMarre) of Pine Bluff
  • Idella Kimbrough of Gould
  • Mildred Laureles of Snow Lake
  • Emma Merlo of Pine Bluff
  • Jessie Tidwell of Pine Bluff
  • Annie R. Zachary (later Pike) of Marvell

Jewell had the opportunity to interview one of the two women still alive — Emma Merlo. A video of the interview is included in the virtual exhibition.

The other survivor, Annie Zachary (now Pike), still resides on her family farm in Marvell.

The exhibition includes the original black-and-white photographs of the women, with short bios using information from the 1976 interviews and recent research about what happened to the women afterward.

Photographs taken on the road in 1976 accompany the portraits and capture the places at the time. The locations are almost all unidentified, and many of them are dilapidated. Barns. An old white church. Abandoned houses. An old convenience store. A crop duster.

The exhibition also includes a video displaying photos of the women accompanied by audio of the original interviews.

The virtual exhibition is viewable at It includes all of the images and information of the physical exhibition, with additional information and photos of the present-day locations.

A look at some of the women featured:

Mrs. O.G. (Ethel B.) Dawson

Ethel B. Dawson of Pine Bluff worked for the sharecropper program National Council of Churches in Lincoln County, encouraging people to vote and pay their taxes. In her interview, she discussed segregation, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and sex discrimination as a working African American woman.

“I’ve always been accused of being outspoken. I don’t mean any harm. I never meant any harm, but at the same time, I’m just telling the truth.”

She also spoke about women’s changing role in society.

“I’m glad to see that women being independent, because they don’t have to take what a lot of us had to take. When you married, the man was supposed to be the boss. And men weren’t satisfied until they gave you a whipping. … And o course, with a woman not being able to get a job, being depending she stayed and took it. And I am just so happy to see these young girls go on and get an education so if they marry a man and he doesn’t treat them right they don’t have to stay and take it.”

In her later years, Dawson continued to work with the Jefferson County Voters Association and the League of Women Voters. She remained an active NAACP member and continued to strive to get Blacks hired at the Jefferson County Court House. She died in 1984.


Chanah Reid Foti-LaMarre

At age 7, Chanah Reid Foti of Pine Bluff was the youngest person interviewed for the project in 1976.

“She expressed her opinions clearly and vividly on many different topics,” the Women of the Arkansas Delta book noted.

When asked about work, Foti replied, “I’d like to be a carpenter. I’d build a house.”

What do you think a poor person is? “Somebody who doesn’t have any friends and can’t get along with people,” she responded.

She lived in Arkansas throughout her early 20s. She then moved to California and became a drug and alcohol counselor with her husband, Pierre LaMarre.

Foti-LaMarre died in December 2017 at age 48.


Annie Zachary Pike

Annie R. Zachary of Marvell, born in 1931, was a force to be reckoned with.

After her husband suffered a stroke, she took over as manager of their Phillips County farm while raising their young child. She was young herself.

“When I first started, no one had ever heard of women’s lib. I’ve been liberated all the time. I’m not much interested in women’s liberation, because this (responsibility) came to me by no choice of my own.”

Zachary struggled to gain respect in the farming industry because of her gender.

In 1969, Zachary made history when Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller appointed her to a Governor’s board. She was the first Black person — male or female — to serve on such a board.

“When I walked into the building that day (for the first meeting), the building was lined with State Troopers and local officials. They were just afraid that something was going to break out, that here comes this black woman in here. I didn’t even have a bodyguard.”

In 1977, she married Lester Pike, and in 1979, she helped establish National Teachers’ Day. In 1985, the Arkansas Education Association recognized her many years of volunteer service.

From 1999 to 2001, she served on the Arkansas Tobacco Control Board.

In 2002, Phillips County Road 125 (which runs through her farmland) was renamed Annie Zachary Pike Road.

Pike still resides on the family farm in Marvell. Read more about her in her CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas entry at


About The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC), 701 S. Main St. in Pine Bluff, is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums. ASC presents programming in the visual arts, performing arts, and the sciences through exhibits, performances, classes and local partnerships. Gallery admission is free. ASC is open Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Support for ASC is provided in part by the Arkansas Arts Council —  a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission, and the City of Pine Bluff. For more information, visit or call 870-536-3375.


“Women of the Arkansas Delta” will be on display at the Lakeport Plantation Visitor’s Center from January 3rd, 2022 to April 1st, 2022, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm and is free to view.  Guided tours of the Lakeport Plantation house start on the hour Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Self-guided tours of the house are available Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.  Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students, and military.  For additional information please call 870-265-6031 or email

Honoring Juneteenth

June 19, 2021, 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Gather for a reading of the
Emancipation Proclamation and the
Thirteenth Amendment
on the front steps of the Lakeport Plantation Home beginning at 12:30 pm.
At 1:00 pm, the bell will be rung thirteen times in honor of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Lakeport Plantation Home will be open for
FREE from 11 am – 3 pm on Saturday, June 19th, 2021.

Social distancing and face coverings for those over 10 are required.
For additional information, please call 870-265-6031 or email

Follow our Facebook Event.

Home for the Holidays at Lakeport Plantation

Join us for a free Christmas Open House,
Saturday, November 30, from 1 pm – 4 pm!
Bring your family to explore Lakeport, make an ornament,
try your hand at festive games, sample historic sweets, and
take advantage of our Gift Shop sale to find that perfect gift!

For additional information, check out our Facebook Event.

19th December Calendar

Found behind the mantel in the North Parlor. 2001.002.0039

This December calendar, found behind Lakeport’s North Parlor, lines up with dates in 2018. The calendar is most likely late 19th century. Possible years are 1906, 1900, 1894, 1883 or 1877.

History for the Holidays: Book Signing & Author Event

Saturday, December 8, 1 pm – 4 pm

Pick up a holiday present for your history buff on December 8 at the Lakeport Plantation. Local and regional authors will be on hand to sign copies of their books. Authors include:

Mark K. Christ of Little Rock, AR
Mark Spencer of Monticello, AR
Jim Woodrick of Ridgeland, MS
Woody Woods of Madison, MS
Princella Nowell of Greenville, MS
Robert Fulford of Dermott, AR
Blake Wintory of Lake Village, AR

Authors will sign these local history books

Please bring cash or check. See books and prices below. Prices include tax. Hope to see you then!

Titles for Mark Christ:
Civil War Arkansas, 1863 ($22)
“This Day We Marched Again”: A Union Soldier’s Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi (ed. by Christ) ($24)
A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction (ed. by Christ; chapter by Blake Wintory) ($22)

Jim Woodrick:
The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi ($24)

Woody Woods:
A Delta Diary: Amanda Worthington’s Civil War Diary ($22)
Delta Plantations: The Beginning ($22)

Princella Nowell:
Washington County, Mississippi (Images of America Series) ($24)

Mark Spencer:
Monticello (Images of America) ($24)
Mark will have other titles available, including– A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House

Blake Wintory:
Chicot County (Images of America) ($24)
A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction (ed. by Christ; chapter by Blake Wintory) ($24)

Robert Fulford:
Growing Up on Yellow Bayou Book 1 ($12)
Growing Up on Yellow Bayou Book 2 ($12)
Dark Days of the South ($12)

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