National Archives News



Ronald Reagan pardoning a Turkey

On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of "sincere and humble thanks." The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln made the traditional Thanksgiving celebration a nationwide holiday to be commemorated annually in November. View related records in the National Archives Catalog.


Prologue magazine: Thanksgiving: Another FDR Experiment

AOTUS Blog: Giving Thanks

AOTUS Blog: Blessings of Peace, Union and Harmony

Education Updates: Featured Document Display: Thanksgiving: Historical Perspectives

Education Updates: Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Forward with Roosevelt: The Year of Two Thanksgivings

Forward with Roosevelt: Thanksgiving 1941

Forward with Roosevelt: Thanksgiving 1943

Forward with Roosevelt: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Thanksgiving Proclamation

Forward with Roosevelt: Eleanor Roosevelt—My Day: November 22–30

Hoover Heads: Thanksgiving Proclamations and President Hoover

Hoover Heads: Thanksgiving Proclamation-Arkansas, 1931

Hoover Heads: Thanksgiving in the White House

NARAtions: Ten Records We're Thankful to Have at the National Archives

Pieces of History: Thanksgiving as a Federal Holiday

Pieces of History: A Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamation (from George Washington!)

Pieces of History: Tasty tidbits for your Thanksgiving table

Pieces of History: A White House Thanksgiving - with recipes!

Pieces of History: Thanksgiving with the Presidents

Pieces of History: What’s Cooking Wednesday: Truman and the No-Turkey Thursday

Pieces of History: Reagan and the “Turkey Bird”

Pieces of History: Thanksgiving Aboard the Freedom Train

The Text Message: Thanksgiving Around the World, World War I

The Text Message: Cartoonist Clifford Berryman on Thanksgiving

The Text Message: Thanksgiving in Rome, 1944

The Unwritten Record: Gobble Gobble: America’s Thanksgiving Turkey Tradition

The Unwritten Record: Images of the Week: Thanksgiving with the Troops

The Unwritten Record: Mission: Turkey! Thanksgiving Dinner and the U.S. Military

Hoover Library

Hoover Heads: Thanksgiving Proclamations and President Hoover

Hoover Heads: Thanksgiving in the [Hoover] White House

Roosevelt Library

Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Thanksgiving Proclamation

The year we had two Thanksgivings

Truman Library

Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamations

Bess Wallace Truman’s Thanksgiving Menu, 1947. Note: No turkey! During the winter of 1947, Americans were urged to eat less poultry so that grain that would normally go to feed livestock could be sent to famine-stricken people in Europe. The Trumans complied with the suggestions of the Citizens Food Committee (and ate their Thanksgiving turkey on Wednesdat, not Thursday).

Bess Wallace Truman’s Thanksgiving Menu, 1948

Eisenhower Library

Thanksgiving menu, Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor, 1941

Nixon Library

Pat Nixon Receives the Annual Live Thanksgiving Turkey, 1971

Ford Library

Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamations and Statements

Reagan Library

Reagan Family Thanksgiving at Rancho del Cielo

Proclamation 4883—Thanksgiving Day, 1981

Proclamation 5551—Thanksgiving Day, 1986

Reagan's Thanksgiving Radio Address, 1988

George H. W. Bush Library

President George H. W. Bush Enjoys Thanksgiving Troops, 1990

Clinton Library

President Clinton and First Lady Help Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner at the Covenant Baptist Church in Washington, DC, 1993

President Clinton and First Lady Receive a Thanksgiving Day Wreath from Children, 2003

President Clinton’s Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation Ceremony 2000

George W. Bush Library

From the archived website, titled “Thanksgivings at the White House”

Thanksgiving 20012002200320042005200620072008

Obama Library

The White House Blog: The Definitive History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

President Obama Pardons Turkey (2010 video)

President Obama's Final Turkey Pardon

Thanksgiving Proclamations: 2009, 20102011, 2012, 2013, 20142015, 2016

Trump Library

Thanksgiving Proclamations: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020