Happy Thanksgiving from the National Archives and Sassy Jane Genealogy. Did you know that the Presidential tradition of pardoning a holiday turkey did not start with Harry Truman, as commonly believed? I had no idea the historical record was so murky – something genealogists are used to dealing with! – but the background for the custom is here.

I also never realized that the first national proclamation related to Thanksgiving in the United States was issued by George Washington. He declared Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks,” the first the United States enjoyed under the new Constitution. Here’s Washington’s proclamation:

All this time I thought it President Lincoln issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation. He may not have been first, but he was eloquent, calling upon the nation to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Here’s Lincoln’s proclamation:

Happy Thanksgiving from the National Archives

President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of October 3, 1863 [ARC Identifier 299960]

More historic documents related to Thanksgiving are available at the National Archives Web site or by clicking here.

As for me, this year I’m grateful for all the help I’ve had making progress with my German lines, but mostly I’m thankful for the readers who have treated my new blog with such kindness. Thank you very much. Happy searching!