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Tag: thanksgiving

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Truman and the no-turkey Thursday

President Truman receives a turkey from Sen. Olin Johnston of South Carolina in the Oval Office, 11/25/1946 (ARC 199535)

What do you if you love Thanksgiving but it falls on a day when you can’t eat turkey? In 1947, President Truman faced an awkward dilemma.

Truman took up the office of President during World War II, but even after the war ended, the plight of the Europeans was on his mind. Americans were still urged to conserve food so that more could be sent to the hungry and needy in a war-devastated Europe.

Part of this effort involved not eating poultry on Thursdays. Of course, this presented a problem for President Truman on the fourth Thursday of November in 1947.

Certainly, Truman could have tried a drastic move and declared Thanksgiving to be held that Friday instead. However, Thanksgiving had barely recovered from a firestorm of controversy that started in 1939.

Before that fateful Thursday in 1939, the American people had followed the 1863 proclamation of Abraham Lincoln and faithfully celebrated a day of Thanksgiving on the last week of November. But in 1939, President Roosevelt had attempted to move the date up by a week to the fourth Thursday. It was a disaster, with 32 states accepting the date change and 16 states refusing. For two years, there were two Thanksgivings on two different Thursdays.

Having the entire country disagree over … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Giving thanks for the calorie?

A poster giving information on what 100 calories looks like, from the Records of the Office of Education (ARC 5838434).

Congratulations to Sheila Fisher, whose comment on last week’s post, “A fire place with hickory wood burning and crackling. Nothing makes a house smell more like a home than a wood burning fireplace on a frosty winter morning! MMMMMM” was randomly chosen by Patty Mason, the editor of Eating with Uncle Sam. The Foundation for the National Archives will be sending you a copy!

Wilbur Olin Atwater would make a terrible Thanksgiving guest.

Chances are after you stuffed yourself with turkey, gravy, rolls, and green beans covered in fried onions bits, he would invite you sit in his calorimeter.

Would you decline? Or would you agree to be a (stuffed) guinea pig for science? W. O. Atwater wasn’t one to mince words: “The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear—perhaps in an excessive amount of fatty tissue, perhaps in general debility, perhaps in actual disease.”

In fact, Wilbur Olin Atwater is the reason that we count calories in the first place.

Atwater was born in 1844, and the results of his research are still being felt over 100 years later. In fast-food restaurants, you can look at a chart listing fat, protein, carbs, and calories for each food—a quantification … [ Read all ]

Thanksgiving, as American as apple pie

Here, in short, are the documents that made Thanksgiving.

George Washington's proclamation to give thanks for the Constitution and the country (ARC Identifier 299956)

George Washington's proclamation to give thanks for the Constitution and the country (ARC Identifier 299956)

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.

lincoln-thanksgiving-proclamation-1-l

Page one of Lincoln's Thanksgiving Procalamation which set the holiday as the fourth Thursday in November (ARC 299960)

On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln made the traditional Thanksgiving celebration a nationwide holiday to be commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. In the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Presidential Proclamation in which he enumerated the blessings of the American people and called upon his countrymen to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

The House Joint Resolution Making the Last Thursday in November a Legal Holiday, Pearl Harbor had occured just over two weeks earlier (Records of the U.S. House of Representatives)

The House Joint Resolution Making the Last Thursday in November a Legal Holiday. FDR would sign this into law on December 26, just two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor (Records of the U.S. House of Representatives)

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy which was still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a … [ Read all ]