Abilene Christian University
Government Documents

Ferris's painting First Thanksgiving
J.L.G. Ferris's painting "First Thanksgiving"

Rockwell's Freedom From Want

Norman Rockwell's "Freedom From Want"
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When was the first Thanksgiving? Read on to discover Texas's claim to fame as the site of the first Thanksgiving celebration.


How Lincoln Proclaimed Thanksgiving a Holiday
Story of how Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book, persuaded President Lincoln to establish this national holiday.
Source: Beck, Leonard. "LC's Early Cookbooks Reflect the American Melting Pot." Library of Congress Information Bulletin 49.23 (Nov. 19 1990): p.394-398.

Explore the early traditions of Thanksgiving through historic documents from the Library of Congress.

The Smithsonian's concise history of the evolution of the holiday.
How Thanksgiving Day has moved across the calendar, causing some U.S. states to celebrate it on one date while others celebrated it on another day in the same year.


Pilgrims, harvest feasts, and special remembrances illustrate the history and traditions of Thanksgiving. An enjoyable presentation.
Explore significant Thanksgiving events from colonial times through the present.


Presidential activities

In 1789, President George Washington declared the First National Day of Thanksgiving and Public Prayer. A few decades later, in the midst of a bloody civil war, President Lincoln issued a proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as a regular national holiday. Presidents ever since have issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation.

George Washington's portrait October 3, 1789 -- a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to "the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be ...".
 Abraham Lincoln's portrait October 3, 1863 -- "fruitful fields and healthful skies"
October 20, 1864 -- established an annual day of "thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God"
George W. Bush's portrait

George W. Bush's 2003 Thanksgiving Message

 | PDF 
George W. Bush's 2004 Thanksgiving Message | PDF 
George W. Bush's 2005 Thanksgiving Message | PDF 
George W. Bush's 2006 Thanksgiving Message | PDF
George W. Bush's 2007 Thanksgiving Message | PDF

George W. Bush's 2008 Thanksgiving Message


through the year 2000

A White House tradition established by Truman. A turkey is presented to the president, is "pardoned", and enjoys a life-long stay at a petting zoo. See the

and the presidential .



Sheet music for a nostalgic old song
Sheet music to 1863 song composed in honor of the new holiday established by President Abraham Lincoln


Holiday recipes from a 1920s cookbook. See the recipes, or view the for other fun holiday fare.
First American Recipes for Stuffed Turkey, Pumpkin Pie
The first published recipes for these foods in an American cookbook dates back to 1808.
Source: Beck, Leonard. "LC's Early Cookbooks Reflect the American Melting Pot." Library of Congress Information Bulletin 49.23 (Nov. 19 1990): p.394-398.
Princeton-Yale football video
The American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. The growing popularity of the game made it a Thanksgiving tradition. See a video of a Nov. 19, 1903 game between Princeton and Yale.

Cuban Seasonings
How an immigrant family celebrated this holiday "bound by common memories and hopes". Includes a recipe for mojo.
Life on a Turkey Farm
Hard work and family values were byproducts of farm life. Includes a recipe for Grandma Sander's Pumpkin Pie.
A Marriage of Contrasting Traditions
How a culturally mixed family adapted traditional fare to make it their own. Includes a recipe for collard greens .

An incredible variety of pumpkin recipes, including pies, but also savory

and an interesting Pentagon recipe for pumpkin and sweet Italian sausage fettuccine.  A great blend of traditional and innovative ideas.

Contents updated: Nov. 19, 2009

Thanks to a donation from an alumnus, the Special Collections at ACU's Center for Restoration Studies now houses two Ethiopian religious texts dating back to the turn of the 19th century.

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