Monday, December 2, 2019

A Brief History of Thanksgiving

Guest View: A Brief History of Thanksgiving written by Graham A. Peck. He is the Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield.

In 1867, the popular New York City printmaking firm Currier and Ives published “Home to Thanksgiving.” The print celebrated domestic bliss. Although the roofs of the house and the barn were covered in snow, all was warm within: The grandmother cradled her granddaughter while the young husband warmly grasped the hand of his father-in-law. The print reflected mid-19th century domestic ideals that the American middle and upper classes had come to associate with Thanksgiving.

Yet Thanksgiving was not always a family holiday, but only slowly became one, which reminds us that everything — including holidays — has a history. To understand Thanksgiving now we need to know its past.

This article appeared in the State Journal-Register on November 28, 2019.