Mary’s Lamb & Thanksgiving
Posted on November 17, 2017
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I was researching the history of the holiday. I knew that our modern gathering held little in common with the original Pilgrim’s holiday, but what I didn’t know was the significant role that the accomplished Sarah Josepha Buell Hale had on the holiday.
One of the first women editors, she used her influence while editing “Godey’s Lady Book” to popularize many of the recipes that we now associate with Thanksgiving such as roasted turkey and pumpkin pie. Author, teacher, and poet, she was devoted to the idea that women should be educated the same way as men. She wrote this letter in 1863 to Mr. Lincoln in support of Thanksgiving being an annual national holiday.
The artist W.W. Denslow illustrated the poem. He is best known for his illustrations of the first several books of the “The Wizard of Oz”series. I always loved the work of the second illustrator of Oz books, John Rea Neill, with his Art Noveau style–but Denslow had a interesting way of relating images with the type.
Part of the success of “Mary’s Lamb” may have been that Thomas Edison selected it to be the first thing ever recorded on his newly designed phonograph in 1878.
I’d like to think of the way traditions travel through time, picking up influences along the way and changing through the actions of artists and the writers who shape the public view. Thanksgiving in some form began almost 400 years ago, and even though the original feast was venison the thought remains the same.