Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving for university students means a couple days off from classes to reconnect with family and relax before the last three weeks of school. It also means getting to eat turkey, and feast for a day. While we don’t have any archaeological record of feasting or Thanksgiving on the 19th century campus, we do have archival data that is relevant.

From the diary of Edward G. Granger we learn about a turkey hunt. While it obviously isn’t related to Thanksgiving the holiday, knowing that students were hunting there own turkeys may be indicative of what occurred for Thanksgiving on campus.

Decemeber 4th 1858

After finishing my letter, I played a game of chess with Foote, or rather, tried to learn him what little I know of the game.

Then Foote and I went out hunting, Foote taking an axe along in case we run over a bear.

We went up the river aways and saw a muskrat swimming down the river. Afterwards we saw some tracks of wild turkies some of which were evidently those of a wounded turkey as there was considerable blood on the snow. We tried to follow them but they stopped a little farther on, the turkey having flown. After a little farther, we turned and struck off into the woods. Presently, we came across the track of the wounded turkey again. We followed it a short distance to a brush pile where we found the turkey which had laid down to die. We cut off his head with the axe. We took him to Mr. Williams’ for a present to the President. The President invited us over to come over and help us eat him on Tuesday.

… Prof. Tracy came out to No. 2 and asked Foote if he found a turkey in the woods to day. Foote told him that he did. Then Prof. gave him a great blowing for hooking his turkey. It seems that Prof. shot the turkey this morning in the cornfield and that he did not follow the bird across the river because it was so near dinner time! Mighty Hunter!!!

December 7th 1858

This morning I intended to get up early but I was so sleepy that I laid abed till the bell rang. Must get up earlier another morning as there is much to be done in the line of studying.

At half past twelve o’clock Foote and I went over to the Presidents’s to help eat our turkey.


MAC Memorabilia 1910

There is also memorabilia from the college. In 1910, the smallpox epidemic required all students to stay on campus for their Thanksgiving break in order to get vaccinated. Since they were unable to return home, the college created a day of activities which is now recorded in a pamphlet. The grey pages read: “Greetings and best wishes from the Faculty to the Students, unexpectedly, by the force of circumstances denied the privilege of the usual Thanksgiving vacation.” The program includes football and sports in the morning, and dinner at the clubs in the afternoon.

Author: Katy Meyers Emery

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