The First Thanksgiving: The Harvest Celebration of 1621
Co-Hosted by the Columbia Club of Washington, D.C.
By special arrangement with:
Plimoth Patuxet Museum
“Meet” a 17th-century Pilgrim and discover colonial first families in the New World and their celebration of the first Harvest Feast.
We begin our adventure in 1620 in Plymouth, England as the Mayflower sets sail on a transatlantic journey to the New World. Our Pilgrim shares stories of the difficult decision to leave home, life on the transatlantic crossing and the challenges of the first winter and promise of hope in the spring in Plymouth. The Colonist describes meeting the Indigenous people and the relationship the Pilgrims they forged with their communities that ensured the colonists’ survival.
Discover the real history of the first Thanksgiving. Learn about the traditions of gratitude in both Indigenous people and the new inhabitants of colonial America. Explore what really happened at that first harvest celebration in the autumn of 1621: who was there and why, how they celebrated and what foods were served.
Grateful appreciation is extended to: Plimoth Patuxet Museum for developing this program for the ColumbiaDC, the extraordinary museum educators, Malka Benjamin and Hilary Goodnow for presenting this evening’s program as well as Lindsay Cahoon in the museum’s program services who worked tirelessly on this event.
Malka Benjamin has almost 30 years of experience working in public history and is the Associate Director of Historic Sites & Guest Experience at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. In this role she is responsible for training and mentoring the Museum’s public facing staff along with overseeing the Museum Theater Program, 17th-Century English Village living history exhibit and Colonial Wardrobe Department. She loves using stories, crafted from primary sources, along with the Museum’s dynamic recreated historic environments, to bring the world of the 17th century to life, and loves helping other staff learn to do the same. Prior to coming to Plimoth
Patuxet, Ms. Benjamin worked for the National Park Service and at Touro Synagogue National Historic Site in Newport, RI. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University in archaeology, anthropology, and American Indian studies.
Hilary Goodnow is a Public Historian specializing in engaging, immersive, and thought-provoking historic and cultural exhibits, programs, and living history experiences for diverse audiences. Ms. Goodnow currently serves as the Director of Education & Community Outreach at Plimoth Patuxet Museums. She holds an MA in Public History from North Carolina State University and a BA in History and Museum Studies from Connecticut College.