Mother of Thanksgiving: Sarah Josepha Hale

SaraJosephaHaleSarah Josepha HaleThanksgiving Day has a mother, a proper Victorian women, arguably one of most powerful magazine editors in the mid-1800s–Sarah Josepha Hale, who for forty years ceaselessly campaigned for the establishment of a National Thanksgiving, at a time when Americans had only two national holidays to celebrate: Washington’s birthday in February and the Fourth of July. “These are patriotic and political,” she wrote, “Are not the sounds of war borne on the breezes of those festivals? . . . .Should not the women of America have one festival in whose rejoicings they can fully participate?” Her relentless efforts finally resulted in President Lincoln resuming a precedent established by Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison of issuing a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”  In SarahJosephaHale-212x3001876, the centennial anniversary of the United States, Hale wrote: “It is a holiday especially worthy of our people. All its associations and all its influences are of the best kind. It unites families and friends. It awakens kindly and generous sentiments. It promotes peace and good-will among our mixed population . . .”   As for the origins of Thanksgiving that we celebrate today, they cannot be directly traced to the inspiration of a single historical event, such as the 1621 Pilgrim and Indian feast. The true story involves multiple influences–two very old traditions and the activism of  Sarah Josepha Hale–that were finally officially recognized by an act of Congress in 1941. The Sarah Josepha Hale bobblehead is labeled “Mother of Thanksgiving”  Here’s a link to discussion questions for two of my books: Thanksgiving: The True Story and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World.

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The Crazy History of Thanksgiving Day Parades: Ragamuffins, Hobos, Scary Masks, and Trick or Treat!

TK interview croppedRecently an “audio engineer” came to my house to interview me for a program on America’s Test Kitchen with host Christopher Kimball. The program aired 11/21/15: Here the description and link:  It’s 50 minutes. I come in at about 16 minutes.

The Crazy History of Thanksgiving Day Parades: Ragamuffins, Hobos, Scary Masks, and Trick or Treat!  November 21, 2015

Before marching bands, character balloons, and reindeer-driven sleighs began parading down 34th street every Thanksgiving Day, there were beggars, cross-dressers and mischief makers. This week we speak with several historians and experts about the raucous Thanksgiving tradition of ragamuffin parades, and how they gave way to the star-studded parade we are accustomed to today. We’ll find out what’s hot and what’s not in the world of kitchen gadgets, and we’ll taste wine with expert Stephen Meuse. Then we’ll head into the test kitchen to uncover the secrets to making the best Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy for a Crowd. And of course, we’ll be taking your calls to answer all of your cooking questions.

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Veterans Day

T-Shirt Military cropThere’s an article in today’s New York Times about a book with “500 T-Shirts” that trace “a vein of Hip-Hop History.” So, I said to Linda, “I have enough women’s history T-Shirts to do a book!” Perhaps I will, but for now I’ll post some of them here. In honor of Veterans Day, here’s one that reads: “Women of the Armed Forces Full Partners in America’s Defense.”  I bought this T-Shirt when I went to the Dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Veterans Day, 1993, Washington, DC.  The sleeve reads: “Dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial/ Veterans Day 1993 Washington, D.C. Honoring the Service of Women”  The emblems of the 5 branches of military service: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard

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Saddest Angel

saddest angel cropAfter the lovely indoor celebration of ECS’s 200th, Linda and I went looking for two women’s graves in Woodlawn Cemetery, I have not yet photographed–Celia Cruz and Gertrude Ederle. That’s when I found this angel statue. For my book “Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts” I visited countless cemeteries & this is the “saddest angel” I’ve seen.

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Happy Birthday Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Happy 200th Birthday–November 12, 205–5513251 to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, author of the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence an presented at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, 7/19-20, 1848:  It began with: “All men and women are created equal” and end with: “Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-third the people of this country, their social and religious degradation—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States. In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.”

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Historic Landmarks

EmarkerJohnstown#1, Historic Marker in Johnstown, NY, birthplace of Elizabeth Cady Stanton 200 years ago tomorrow November 15th! It reads: The Birthplace of Equal Rights for Women in this country, and the World, was right here in Johnstown. At the near-by site of young Elizabeth Cady’s home, her father’s law office and her school, the Academy, she experienced the inspiration and the inception of that zealous crusade for the emancipation of women. ELIZABETH CADY STANTON The greatest feminist reformer of 19th century America. The progenitor of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution which extended the right of suffrage to the women of this Republic.”

HistoricJohnstownMural #2: The mural is on the side of the Water Department Building in Johnstown. Sir William Johnson and Rose Knox, of Knox gelatine. ERededicatePlaqueJohnstown


#3: reads: Pioneer for woman’s rights was born in Cady home located on this site. (5 West Main St.)EMarkerJohnstowndowntown




#4: Women’s Rights Birthplace of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902 Pioneer of Women’s RIghts A Leader in the Women’s SufPCJohnstboarding housecropfrage Movement.



#5: The History of Woman Suffrage in Four Volumes is a documentary masterpiece from 50 years of co-operative teamwork between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Both were outstanding leaders in the campaign for women’s equal rights. During the years 1884 Stanton and Anthony lived right here in Johnstown to write Volume III of their documentary. Mrs. Stanton lived with her sisters in the old family home, and Susan Anthony was only a block away, where she boarded at Mrs. Henry’s house. Before you is Mrs. Henry’s House, and in it the same pleasant “Parlor Chamber” where Susan B. Anthony devoted the year 1884 preparing Volume III for The History of Woman Suffrage.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton: A Painting

mstanton“Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  As part of my research for my book about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, I went to the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.,  to view a bust of SBA and portraits of many of the people I was writing about– Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass and this one of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  It was painted by Anna Klumpke during Stanton’s six month visit in 1887 with her son  Theodore and his family who lived in Paris, France. “I am quite pleased with the result,” ECS wrote to her son Robert,  “I sit in a large ruby-colored velvet chair, dressed in black satin and black lace around the throat and hands. Nothing white in the picture but my head and hands. My right hand rests in my lap, my left on the arm of the chair holding my gold spectacles. A little table on my left contains one volume of the Woman Suffrage History and two pamphlets.”

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton

ECS buttonElizabeth Cady Stanton: “Be kind, noble, generous, magnanimous, true to yourself and your friends.”
An iconic figure, Stanton’s image appeared on suffrage banners and buttons in the both the U.S. and England. This button reads from top to bottom: “Equal Rights for Women/ Elizabeth Cady Stanton/ Harlem Equal Rights League” Maud Malone organized the League in 1905, three years after Stanton’s death.

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19a ECSHWS1Countdown to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday on 11/12: “Remember that beauty works from within, it cannot be put on and off like a garment, and it depends far more on the culture of the intellect, the tastes, sentiments, and affections of the soul, on an earnest, unselfish life purpose to leave the world better than you find it, than the color of the hair, eyes or complexion.” from her speech, “Our Girls”

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Suffrage: Why not to vote for it 1914

img036Scary reasons why not to vote for woman suffrage in 1914: women wearing pants, playing billiards, carrying a gun, delivering mail, smoking cigars, fighting fires!

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