You are here: Be Thankful for: Music, Movies, and Books

On Campus

Be Thankful for: Music, Movies, and Books


As the leaves begin to turn and pumpkin spice lattes flow, we remember to give thanks with our friends, families, and loved ones. But what is the origin of this tradition? Cemented into American culture by Abraham Lincoln and FDR, the history of Thanksgiving is rife with controversy. Here is but a small collection of books, videos, and music which attempt to discover the truth about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower, and that harvest nearly 400 years ago.


A Great & Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims & The Myth of the First Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson [F68 .H69 2006]
A rich work throwing new light on the radicalism of the so-called Pilgrims, the financing of their trip, the state of the American Indian tribes that they encountered when they landed, and the reasons why Plymouth probably didn't actually have a rock.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick [F68 .P44 2006]
This book chronicles the history of the ship that carried the Pilgrims across the sea. From construction to decommission, the storied tale of this monumental ship carries immense bravery and the terrible fury of war.

The Times Of Their Lives: Life, Love, And Death In Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz [F68 .D4 2000]
Beginning with an eyewitness account of the first Thanksgiving, this book paints a startling portrait of Plymouth Colony that includes aspects of the legal system, folk beliefs, family life, women’s roles and gender issues, eating habits, alcohol use, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, suspicious deaths, and violent crimes.

Cooking In America, 1590–1840 by Trudy Eden []
Cook your own traditional Thanksgiving dinner (possum stew anyone?) with this cookbook that uses authentic colonial writings to detail what and how American Indians ate in Colonial times and a look at European immigrants cooking evolved into American cooking. 

America's Hidden History: Untold Tales Of The First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, And Forgotten Founders Who Shaped A Nation by Kenneth C. Davis. [E178 .D39 2008]
An iconoclastic look at America’s past, spanning a period from the Spanish arrival in America to George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, with little-known but fascinating, myth-busting facts.


While there is a plethora of fictional films centered on Thanksgiving, these selections offer opposing views of the fateful landing.

Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower []
A story bearing little resemblance to the popular myth, this A&E special tracks the incredible voyage that landed an unlikely band of pioneers on the inhospitable shores of what would come to be known as New England.

After The Mayflower: We Shall Remain—America Through Native Eyes []
Part of a larger series, this episode begins in March of 1621, in what is now southeastern Massachusetts, when the leading sachem of the Wampanoag negotiated with a ragged group of English colonists. What followed half a century later was a war that never ended. An alternative look at a controversial time in America.


While Christmas is known for its traditional song selection, Thanksgiving is not without its own share. Reflect on the music that shaped the times and inspired the deeds of early Americans.

An Anthem (Designed For Thanksgiving Day. But Proper For Any Publick Occasion) by William Cooper (1792) []
One of the oldest songs in the collection this anthem captures the spirit of Americana at the birth of this nation.

Canon And Fugue in D Minor (No. 4 Of New England Holidays) by Wallingford Riegger (1941) [Composers Recordings 177]
A song composed around the time when Thanksgiving was declared an official holiday by FDR.

Thanksgiving Suite by Charles Callahan (1988) [M13.C254 op.52 1988]
A modern organ hymn in the style of traditional hymnals.

Early American Anthems [M2 .R2375 v.36]
A cornucopia of traditional Thanksgiving songs from Early America