I tend to post something about Thanksgiving every year, so, rather than writing up a long new piece, I'll just share some items in this week's news, along with links to older posts.
In the news:
• From the Library of Congress: Thanksgiving at the end of World War I, ranging from President Wilson's proclamation ("This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace.") to posters.
• From Tablet: Ed Simon, "Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims’ American Jewish Holiday: How the biblical narrative of Exodus helped shape the founders’ idea of a secular nation with liberty for all"
• From New England Historical Society: "New England’s First Thanksgiving – Maine Style:
New England’s first Thanksgiving celebrated by European colonists (the American Indians had harvest celebrations of their own long before) came in 1607 in Popham, Maine."
• From Business Insider: Jeremy Bender, "How Thanksgiving took the place of an awesome military celebration" [British evacuation of New York, 1783]
• From Smithsonian (2011): Lisa Bramen, "Thanksgiving in Literature: Holiday readings from Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Philip Roth and contemporary novels that use Thanksgiving as the backdrop for family dysfunction"
• From Scientific American: Dana Hunter, "The Real Story of Plymouth Rock. Learn about the erratic past of one of America's most famous rocks" [history, mythology, geology]
• From Pilgrim Hall Museum: More Thanksgiving Recipes from America's Past (1671 through World War II)
• And finally, since half of the seasonal articles about Thanksgiving present manifest untruths and distortions of history, while the other half take as their task the correction of these errors (in the process committing more of their own), former Chief Curator of Plimoth Plantation Jeremy Bangs offers, via History News Network (from 2005):
"The Truth About Thanksgiving Is that the Debunkers Are Wrong."
From the vaults:
• 2008 The Inevitable Thanksgiving Piece : focusing on food and fable as well as historiography: how the holiday came to assume its familiar form. Among my minor favorites are the mystery of the cranberry (pregnant insects?! wtf?) and Pilgrim drinking habits (a shot and a brew).
• 2009 Thanksgiving Day (Thanksgiving Again): brief piece with focus on historiography--contrasting historical approaches of the focus on material culture and the larger narrative (including the long-term consequences), exemplified by James and Patricia Deetz on the one hand and Nathaniel Philbrick, on the other (with links to a variety of topics, from the date of the holiday to presidential turkey pardons and the relation between poultry and dinosaurs).
• 2010 (a) The Annual Thanksgiving History Buffet: a smorgasbord of topics, starting with foodways (eels and sweet potato) and moving on to the conservative canards about Pilgrims, socialism, and capitalism.
• 2010 (b) Thanksgiving Miscellany: e.g. never rocked to the Turkey Gobbler's Ball? Here's your chance.
• 2010 (c) (I must have been on a roll that year): 13 December 1621: The "Fortune" Sails from Plymouth to England (and why the Pilgrims were neither "socialists" nor "capitalists")
• 2012: 22 December 1620: Pilgrims Land at Plymouth Rock (and post-Thanksgiving postprandial link dump)
• 2014 Post-Thanksgiving Digestif (cheers and fears): Emily Dickinson, historic beverages, the turkey industry, Black Friday and late capitalism