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Pilgrims and Progress: Thanksgiving in the 19th Century

November 06, 2013

Category: Events, History & Politics, Religion & Philosophy


WillsWho invented Thanksgiving? Was it the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation? Eighteenth-century colonists grateful to a sparing God? Or maybe a nineteenth-century magazine editor eager to unify an expanding, industrializing, increasingly diverse population?

At the next Catawba College Community Forum, Dr. Anne Blue Wills, Associate Professor of Religion at Davidson College, will examine one woman’s efforts to shape how and why we celebrate this thoroughly American holiday.

Professor Wills holds a B.A. from Davidson College, M. Div. from Yale Divinity School, and Ph.D. from Duke University. Her research interests include civil religion, politics and religion, gender and religion, popular religious practice, African-American religious traditions, Mormonism, and religious memoir. She is currently writing a biography of Ruth Bell Graham and coediting a volume on Billy Graham.

Her most recent article is a study of religion and scrapbooking titled "Mourning Becomes Hers: Women, Tradition, and Memory Albums" in Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation. In addition to other articles and more than a dozen book reviews, her publications include an entry on "Religion" in Women in American History: An Encyclopedia; an article on the domestic mission movement in the Encyclopedia of Religion in America; and several biographical articles in The Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Politics. Dr. Wills is a member of the American Society of Church History and the American Academy of Religion. She is also Vice President-elect of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion.

Come to the next Catawba College Community Forum on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in Tom Smith Auditorium of Ralph W. Ketner Hall for this timely look into the history of a great American tradition. Admission, as always, is free.