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Thanksgiving in Kansas Schools in the 1930s
Posted on November 20, 2018 at 9:38 AM by Bill Sowers
Established officially as a federal holiday in 1863, Thanksgiving Day has built up a wealth of cuisines, customs, cavalcades, contests and curiosities dating back to periodic celebrations of thanksgiving in what became the United States in the 17th century. School children still remember the holiday today with handmade decorations, history projects on Puritans and Native Americans, pageants and music.
In 1935 Kansas schools were given ideas on observing the day through a handbook supplied by the Kansas State Department of Public Instruction: "Manual of Patriotic Instruction and Program Helps For Special Days." This book covered most days of special interest in instructing students with poetry, short histories and projects.
The material offered on Thanksgiving Day appears on pages 95-109 in the handbook. It includes information on the Mayflower Compact, trivia on different thanksgiving observances in history, inspirational poetry, information on the origins of Thanksgiving Day, an idyllic look at the first Thanksgiving and a short children's pageant for the holiday.
The book is dated, published during the Great Depression. Its compilers were working to instill hope and fidelity in a people who had already suffered years of hard times. Reading it through 21st century eyes, the material would seem narrow in its scope and content. Keep in mind that it is just one look at Kansas society over 80 years ago.
You can read the chapter on promoting Thanksgiving in the 1930s at the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library:
Manual of Patriotic Instruction
Program Helps For Special Days
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
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