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Historical Holiday Weather: Thanksgiving 1863

Courtesy of NOAA NCEI

On November 26, 1863, a sunny day with a high near 40°F and slight winds from the northwest, residents near Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrated the first federally recognized Thanksgiving holiday. While it is thought that one of the first Thanksgivings took place in Plymouth in the early 1600s, it was not until a proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1863 that a specific day of thanks was recognized.

In 1863, the closest weather station to Plymouth was in Fort Warren, Massachusetts. There, the U.S. Army recorded weather observations while they used Fort Warren to protect the Boston Harbor from the Confederate Navy. Their observations indicate that November 1863 was a warm one for eastern Massachusetts, with some light snow early in the month and many days with highs in the 50s.

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Image of the Fort Warren, Massachusetts, November 1863 Meteorological Observation Form

Fort Warren, Massachusetts, November 1863 Meteorological Observation Form

NCEI is responsible for storing data like the U.S. Army’s 1863 Thanksgiving surface weather observations. Our archive of environmental data is the largest in the world, with over 30 petabytes of digital data available to users. A team of experts works to ensure the quality and integrity of these data for present and future generations.

Check out our infographic for an overview of weather conditions in Fort Warren, Massachusetts, on November 26, 1863.