This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, held annually to commemorate the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag sharing an autumn harvest feast in 1621. 

Although the events that took place at the first Thanksgiving have been questioned and rewritten throughout history. Every fourth Thursday of November, Americans will gather around the table to enjoy roast turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and much more.

We have selected two digital magazine issues and one digital book from the archives and collections of our publishing partners, focusing on the historical figures involved in the first Thanksgiving and the traditions involved in modern day Thanksgiving celebrations.

 Current Archaeology ‘The Mayflower, 1620–2020’ Issue 369

In 1620, a ship called the ‘Mayflower’ left Plymouth, England, carrying around 100 would-be colonists. A mixture of religious separatists searching for a new home to freely practice their faith and individuals lured by the promise of prosperity in the ‘New World’. It was these pilgrims who arrived on land inhabited by the Wampanoag people, now known as Massachusetts.

Carly Hilt asks, what can we learn from these voyagers, what happened to the city they left behind, what impact did they have on the indigenous people already living on the land?

Read the article, pages 50–55, here.

Discipline by Jane Yeh ‘Thanksgiving, New York City’

In the United States, Thanksgiving dinner is a time for family and friends to return home and be with their loved ones. ‘Thanksgiving, New York City’ by Jane Yeh, includes many striking observations of typical Thanksgiving traditions. 

This poem is from her her third collection, Discipline, published by Carcanet. It contains multifaceted poems, depicting a haunting and hilarious variety of lives, from an endangered young rhinoceros to the denizens of the 1980s New York club scene.

Read the poem, page 25, here.

Sainsbury’s Magazine ‘Pumpkin Meringue Pie’ November 2011

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag are alleged to have eaten pumpkins and other squashes that are native to New England. The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time, as it is in season during Autumn and Winter. Although the Pilgrims didn’t have the butter and flour necessary for making pie crust, pumpkin pie became a common addition to the Thanksgiving dinner in the early 19th century.

Pumpkin Meringue Pie adds a fluffy meringue twist to the classic American dessert.

Find the recipe, on page 74, here

Access to the digital magazine issues included in this post will be active until the 25th of January 2022.

Fully-searchable digital subscriptions to Current Archaeology, the Carcanet Collection & Sainsbury’s Magazine are all available in the Exact Editions individual and institutional shops.