Last year on Presidents’ Day we explored the holiday’s beginnings: starting in 1880 as a celebration of George Washington’s Birthday, modified in 1971 to fall on a Monday in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and finally broadened in the 1980s from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day (learn more in the National Archives Prologue magazine article, “By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday!”).
This Presidents’ Day, we look back at past president-related posts featured here on AHA Today.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Dear readers, please accept our Valentine’s gift to you: a collection of Valentine’s Day and history-related links.
Teachinghistory.org’s Thanksgiving website is a true wealth of resources for history teachers looking to make the Thanksgiving school lesson a memorable one. Among these resources are engaging lesson plans, fun quizzes, and a cornucopia of information about the first Thanksgiving and its key players. But perhaps the most important aspect of the site is that it provides a great set of tools for students to gain a better, and broader, understanding of the Thanksgiving holiday—past and present. Read on for some resources from the website, and find plenty more at teachinghistory.org.
November is Native American Heritage Month. Learn more about Native American history and culture, and find teaching resources, through the links we’ve rounded up below.
Our present-day Halloween celebration is rooted in Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival of the dead. The Celts believed Samhain was the day ghosts were free to mingle with the living. The people provided offerings of food and drink to appease these spirits, and lit bonfires to aid the dead on their journey. In an effort to weaken this pagan holiday, the Christian feast of All Saints was set for November 1. However, this Celtic festival’s mark was not completely erased, and All Hallows Eve—or Halloween—became the reincarnation of the celebration of the dead.
The President’s Day holiday was originally called the Washington’s Birthday when it was conceived in 1880, and in fact fell on George Washington’s birthday: February 22nd. In 1971, the date was changed to the third Monday in February, in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Advertisers in the 80’s can be thanked for the name change, from Washington’s Birthday to President’s Day, which they used to promote sales between Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on February 22nd.
Starting off this week we turn to the Google Books Ngram Viewer, a new online tool from Google that allows you to search keywords and phrases in their database of 5.2 million digitized books. The New York Times, Dan Cohen, and T. Mills Kelly have spent some time with the viewer and lend their thoughts. Then, check out a roundup of images: a past and present photo contest from the National Archives, Alaska images from Smithsonian, and WWII Christmas-themed propaganda, also from NARA.
Happy Thanksgiving! While you devour turkey this afternoon, enjoy some history about this day as a side dish. Two podcasts, one from BackStory and the other from the National Museum of American History, take a look at Thanksgiving from the view of the Puritans, Victorians, American Indians, and even a football player. Then, the National Archives has put together Thanksgiving history paired with related documents and images while the National Women’s History Museum has put together a video on women and Thanksgiving.