Thanksgiving Book, The

Cultural Studies

The Thanksgiving Book

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The Thanksgiving Book is an indispensable reference source on the history and cultural importance of this holiday. Through essays, primary sources, and recipes, this volume traces the history, customs, symbols, and foods of the Thanksgiving holiday, showing how the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving have evolved throughout history—from the earliest European explorers and settlers to the 21st century.

The combination of historical overview, primary source documents, and recipes makes this volume a one-stop reference source for information on a favorite American holiday. The book is organized into three main sections:

Historical Overview Essays: This section covers the history of Thanksgiving celebrations. It begins with traditions from older cultures and covers early American thanksgiving observances; it then examines the evolution of the traditional harvest celebration into a designated “day of thanksgiving”; and it continues with the standardization of the traditional Thanksgiving meal and development of modern American traditions like NFL games and parades. It also explores the history of foods related to the holiday.

Primary Source Documents: This section explores how the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving has evolved throughout American history. Beginning with the 1620s (the Pilgrims’ Peace Treaty with Massasoit, accounts of the first Thanksgiving), and finishing in modern times (Thanksgiving after 9/11, helping the needy on the holiday), these primary source documents show the evolution of the holiday.

Recipes: What would Thanksgiving be without recipes to create all the delicious food? This section includes recipes for Appetizers, Turkey and Gravy, Stuffings, Side Dishes, Bread and Rolls, Desserts, Beverages, and Leftover Ideas.

Other Features: The volume also includes a chronology, bibliography with web sites, and index.

For a more complete understanding of the coverage offered in The Thanksgiving Book, please see the Sample Pages.

Primary Source Documents

The primary sources section is a key element of The Thanksgiving Book. This section gathers more than 50  historical documents, essays, stories, poems, articles, proclamations, and hymns shedding light on a range of themes associated with Thanksgiving. Each document is introduced with an annotation that puts the document in context. These documents, which offer a rare glimpse into the meaning and celebration of the holiday through the ages, are organized in the following roughly chronological sections:

  • The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving
  • The Revolutionary Period
  • America Embraces the Pilgrims
  • New England Thanksgivings
  • Thanksgiving Spreads beyond New England
  • The Civil War and the Creation of the National Holiday
  • Thanksgiving in the Early 20th Century
  • Thanksgiving in Wartime
  • Native American Perspectives
  • Thanksgiving in Modern Times

Reviews

"The Thanksgiving Book pulls together information from many sources and provides helpful, quick access to primary source materials on many related topics that are not covered thoroughly elsewhere. Recommended for middle school through community college libraries and public libraries that need reference material in this area."

—RUSQ: Reference & User Services Quarterly, Winter '08

"This handy reference guide would make a great gift book. It deserves a place in school, college, public, and religious libraries."

—Booklist, May '08

"[The Thanksgiving Book] is a potpourri of varying and widely related items on the topic of Thanksgiving. ... This book is definitely a wonderful tribute to the holiday."

—American Reference Books Annual, 2009