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Blunt Force Truth Thanksgiving Special with James W. Baker – Episode 283

Today we thank our listeners for helping to make our podcast the force that it is, and Chuck and Mark start out by reading listener tweets sharing what they are thankful for this year.

They invite historian James W. Baker on for an historical perspective on America’s Thanksgiving traditions. Baker gives us the facts about the holiday and its beginnings, dispelling some of the myths that have been perpetuated through the decades. Find out what Franksgiving was and learn why the Pilgrims didn’t start Thanksgiving.

Jim Baker was born into an old Plymouth, Massachusetts family and grew up with the story of Pilgrims and the traditions of the town. His first summer job after high school was as a guide aboard Mayflower II. He majored in history at Boston University but also took courses in education and a degree in Library Science at URI to make a living from the Liberal Arts. After receiving his MLS degree, he accepted a position as research librarian at Plimoth Plantation. From 1975 to 2001, he worked at the Plantation as Director of Research and watched it grow from a modest regional institution to a museum of international renown. He left Plimoth Plantation and accepted the position of Curator at the Alden House Historic Site in Duxbury in 2002.

Now retired, he has published several titles on Plymouth and the Pilgrims, including Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday, University of New Hampshire Press, 2009; A Guide to Historic Plymouth, The History Press, 2008; Alden House History: A Work in Progress, Alden Kindred of America, 2006; Images of America Series: Plymouth, Arcadia Publishing, 2002; and Plimoth Plantation: Fifty Years of Living History, Plimoth Plantation, 1997. He still lives in the seventh-generation family house with his wife Peggy M. Baker, Director Emerita of Pilgrim Hall Museum.

For more information about Baker’s work, visit

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