Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Clarke

By Marian Matyn

As a day to give thanks for all our blessings and those we love and our freedoms, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving on Oct. 3, 1863. To read a copy of the proclamation click here:

Here is how Thanksgiving is represented three of the Clarke's collections.

First, we’ll look at the Geesje Visscher, Diary of our Grandmother, 1869-1901. This is a Dutch language diary (copy). Geesje married Mr. Visscher on May 2, 1841. In 1845, the Visschers sailed for the U.S. with Rev. Van Raalte, eventually settling in Holland (Mich.) by 1846. They had a large family, most of whom became or married ministers. Among other aspects of daily life, her diary discusses celebrating Thanksgiving in 1877. Here's how they did it:

Transcribed diary entry (p.64, transcribed by Mr. Clarence Jalving, from the Dutch) of Geesje Vander Haar Visscher.

The 29th of November we observed Thanksgiving Day as ordered in the President’s proclamation. It’s wintry and yesterday it snowed hard all day. Maria is home and so four of them went to church while my husband and I stayed home. The roads aren’t fit for buggy or sleight [sic] so they walked to church. We talked and read together and felt a profound sense of gratitude for all we had enjoyed throughout the past year. When the children came home they said that Rev. Pieters had preached from Psalm 29: ‘But in His temple He is honored by everyone.” We had a fine meal at noon and gave of our substance for the needs of the students and the poor. And so another Thanksgiving day was history.

This is a copy with a typed transcription of the diary. The diary is also available on microfilm. The original is at the Joint Archives of Holland, Michigan.

The second collection to look at is the Ursula Hemingway Jepson Collection, 1903-1951, which has a scrapbook that includes an original photo of the Hemingway family Thanksgiving dinner. Ursula (1902-1962) was one of famed writer Ernest's sisters.

Hemingway Family Thanksgiving, 1914

The third collection to mention is Jean Brinkman, Sadie Hawkins dance advertisments and letters (copies), 1949, 2014. Brinkman graduated from CMU in 1950. The first advertisement is for the weekend of November 5, 1949. It has seven characters and a letter written on the back to Jean's mom dated November 2, 1949. Jean discusses having asked Roger to the dance, thanks her mom for cookies and pearls, notes that she ate with Gamma Delta, is now treasurer of the Women's Glee Club, mentions her classes and going with Roger to the circus put on by the CMU community, and asks how she shall get home for Thanksgiving weekend. There is also an advertisement is for the weekend of November 18, 1950. It has eight characters and a letter written on the back to Jean's pop dated November 17, 1950, in which she discusses that she took Paul to the dance, had problems finding a boy whose date had not asked him ahead of schedule, which was against dance protocol, seating for a band trip, her classes, and that she has a ride home after her last class Wednesday for Thanksgiving.