One of the very fascinating sources I came across when doing archival research at the History Museum of the Albany Museum Complex in Grahamstown was Barber’s notebook.DSCN0493

SM 856 (photograph T.H. September 2011)

There are many of Barber’s poems that her son published for private circulation in The Erythrina Tree and Other Verses (London: Rowland Warden, 1898). Barber’s botanical observations, descriptions and depictions of sea life and passages she copied from geological sources. On the very last page I found a recipe for her son that the doctor prescribed. I thought this was curious, but have not paid much attention to it until I came across it again the other day and decided to bake the biscuits.

The recipe: 5 pounds flour, 3 pounds sugar, 2 ounces ginger, 1 1/2 pound butter, soda, thick milk to mix


This would be 2267,962 g flour, 1360,777g sugar, 56,699 g ginger and 680,3885 butter.

I made a smaller portion of 350g flour, 225g brown sugar, 10g ginger, 115g cane sugar, a bit of yogurt and baking soda.


They are delicious! And I find it very interesting, as mundane things are relatively rare in this female naturalist’s legacy.