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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for November 24th, 2009

by Gerald Boerner


Sabattier Effect (Wikipedia)

Solarisation is a phenomenon in photography in which the image recorded on a negative or on a photographic print is wholly or partially reversed in tone. Dark areas appear light or light areas appear dark. The term is synonymous with the Sabattier Effect when referring to negatives, but is technically incorrect when used to refer to prints.

The Sabattier effect

Initially, the term solarization was used to describe the effect observed in cases of extreme overexposure of the negative in the camera. The effect generated in the dark room was then called pseudo-solarization. This fine distinction is not made in the jargon of contemporary photography.

Normal printPier_study_straight Pier_study_solarised Print from a solarized negative

The effect was first described in print by H. de la Blanchere in 1859 in L’Art du Photographe. It was described again in 1860 by L.M. Rutherford and C.A. Seely, separately, in successive issues of The American Journal of Photography, and in the same year by Count Schouwaloff in the French publication Cosmos. The phenomenon should have been christened the Blanchere Effect, for it was not described by Sabattier until later in 1860 in Cosmos, and another paper published in 1862 in the Bulletin de Societé Francaise de Photographie.

The effect was usually caused by inadvertent severe over-exposure or occasionally by accidentally exposing an exposed plate or film to light before processing. Artist Man Ray perfected the technique which was accidentally discovered in his darkroom by his assistant Lee Miller. It is evident from publications in the 19th century that this phenomenon was invented very many times by many photographers as it tends to occur whenever a light is switched on inadvertently in the darkroom while a film or print is being developed.

In modern film photography, this effect can be emulated for artistic effect by briefly exposing the film to actinic light during chemical development. However, because of the speed of modern films, the effect is much more commonly seen in printing.

In solarization, not only are parts of the image reversed in tone but a thin line is generated around areas of contrasting tone, called a Mackie line. If the film negative is treated, the line is light, which produces a dark line in the print; when the print itself is processed it produces a white or light line around areas of high contrast. It is therefore always possible to determine whether the negative or print has been used to produce the solarisation effect.

In the darkroom

Careful choice of the amount of light used and the precise moment in development to provide the additional exposure gives rise to different outcomes. However, solarization is very difficult to manage to yield consistent results.

As a guide, an exposure of 1 second to a 25 Watt lamp at 2 metres distant at around the end of the first minute of a 2 minute development can produce acceptable results. If the exposure is made with the developing print still in the tray of developer, it is important to stop agitation at least 10 seconds prior to exposure to allow any bubbles on the surface to disperse and to ensure that the print is lying flat. Solarizing colour prints is more difficult because of the more careful control of temperature and timing that is required and because most amateur processing is undertaken in a processing drum rather than a dish.

In colour photography, different coloured lights can be used to effect solarisation, but the results become even less predictable.

It is possible to solarise a negative and subsequently solarise the print made from that negative. The results of such double solarisations are rarely successful, usually producing muddy and poorly defined images.

Solarization in digital media

Tabfamily_ Straight

Two version of the same digital photograph, the version
on the bottom is digitally solarized using

Graphs describing solarization curves typically place input range of tones on the x axis, with black at 0 and white to the right, and the output range of tones on the y axis with black at 0 and white up. A curve then defines the input to output mapping.

Early video synthesizer technologists concerned themselves with achieving arbitrary curves not limited by film chemistry. A goal was to extend the range of solarization effects possible to a computer specified curve. They then applied the defined solarization curve to real time video images. A video lookup table was often used to implement this. Using this enhanced solarization technology, still photos could also be passed through a gray scale or color lookup table with the advantage that the effect could be previewed and progressively improved, instead of a procedure based on darkroom exposure calculations applied on a one time basis to a volatile light sensitive film or print, as described above. This was an especial advantage for creating color solarizations with 3 primary colors.


Sabattier Effect (Solarization)

Sabattier Effect or Solarization is a phenomenon in photography which includes recording of the image on a negative or on a photographic print, found to be wholly or partially reversed in tone. Dark areas appear light and the lighter side of the image appears to be darker. More specifically, the Sabattier Effect is generated in a dark room which is called pseudo-solarization.

The Sabattier Effect was discovered in 1862 by French photographer Armand Sabattier. The effect was caused by the unintentional and severe over-exposure and even sometimes accidentally exposing the exposed plate or film to light before processing.

Artist Man Ray worked more intrinsically on the solarization effect later with assistant Lee Miller. The phenomenon is a very common concern among 19th century photographers as it had a loud consequence. They proved that the Sabattier phenomenon tends to occur wherever and whenever there is light or more importantly in the darkroom during the course of transformation from negative to positive of a film.

In modern times, the Sabattier Effect was emulated in film photography to give an artistic touch in the print through its brief exposure to actinic light during chemical development. Nevertheless, solarization is a very commonly practice in printing business now.

Sabattier Effect not only includes reversed parts of images in terms of tone but also an occurrence of Mackie line. Mackie line is a thin line created around the areas of contrasting tone. Such a phenomenon helps to determine whether a film or print has been used to produce the solarization.


film solerization (not Sabattier)

Jeremy Illingworth , Jan 15, 1998; 05:04 a.m.

I was reading this old book from the seventies about film and it mentioned solarization, and says that true solarization is different form Sabattier effect, which is mistakenly called solarization. Anyway, somebody else told me that solarization is extreme under exposure combined with extreme over development, which yields a crazy kind of transperancy. Can anybody explain solarization and give me some exposure and development times that I can use to start experimenting with.


Kevin Finigan , Jan 15, 1998; 09:28 a.m.

re:film solarization

If you can find a copy of the October issue of Shutterbug Magazine there is an article about solarization. If you follow the author’s instructions you can get some surprising effects.

Alan Gibson , May 06, 1998; 05:22 a.m.

True solarisation occurred with older films, where the characteristic curve dropped off after the shoulder. So if part of the subject gave that much exposure, the negative would be lighter (and the print, darker) than you would expect. From the word "solar" = "from the sun". There is an example in Ansel Adams, The Negative.

Joseph Di Sipio , Apr 22, 2008; 11:40 p.m.

Solarization_self portrait I have used a method of solarization that I obtained years ago from the Peterson Photo Magazines that were out then. Basically, this is what I do. Start with a weak paper developer, a very contrasty paper, I used to use Agfa 6, and find a proper exposure for the paper and then expose it about 50% less. Then treat the paper as if you were making a test strip, I remove the neg. and use the white light from the enlarger. Expose the ‘print’ to the white light for say, 3 second intervals. have a bunch say, 3 to 15 as in test strips. then put the paper in the developer with no agitation and you should see some solarization appearing. Keep it in for the whole minute, or 2 depending on whether you are using RC or Fiber paper. Then look at it under a white light. You will find various times of solarization, then choose one you like, i.e. exposed 9 seconds to white light.


Sabattier Effect

Sabattier Effect is an interesting phenomenon in photography. This photography technique records an image on a negative or on a photographic print which is partially or completely reversed in tone and shade. In an image with Sabattier Effect, the light areas appear dark while the dark areas appear light. The term ‘Sabattier Effect’ in photography is synonymous with ‘Solarization’ but it applies only when it is referred to negatives.

How Sabattier Effect is caused

During processing, Sabattier Effect is caused when the film or the paper is exposed to light for a very short period. After the film or the paper gets exposed to the light, the half developed image which acts as a negative forms a new image which is known as Sabattier Effect. The image created through this technique is not very effectively prominent on black and white materials. It, however, gives out very prominent shades if created on color paper or material.

During the process of exposing the film to light, the unusual shades of a Sabattier print are produced from an amalgamation of effects. But an attempt to re-expose the print to light will have no effect on the dark areas as most of the crystals found have already been exposed and reduced to black silver in the course of the development process. The bright areas still have several sensitive crystals which react to the light.

As a result, the bright areas are converted into grey shades but they stay lighter than the shadows created. The by-products which are resulted from the earlier development and which are present between the light and dark areas slow down the process of further development. The border areas which stay lighted form the Mackie lines.

Materials needed for creating Sabattier Effect include:

  • A negative of normal to high contrast
  • Normal print processing chemicals
  • Multi-contrast paper or high contrast paper




My, how things change! But this is a good list…

Many of these books were not out when either I was little or even when my kids were little. Kids can’t have enough books around them. Books encourage reading — first by the parents and then by the child. What a bonding experience that is…

It is also great preparation for school… Take a look at this list…

The 28 Books Kids Must Read – Parenting on Shine 

Book_Are You My Mother When I was little, I read a lot, but some books meant more to me than others. I grew up in the wilds of North Dakota, so for the most part my three siblings and I borrowed books from the library or the bookmobile, although our family occasionally made it to the bookstore in Fargo. I reread my favorites so many times that they are indelibly stamped on my memory. I can even remember where I was sitting or what I was wearing when I read some of them. Now that I have two kids of my own, I’m collecting new editions for them as I rebuild my childhood library.

Read on to see if your favorites made the list! [MORE]

A good backup HD is a necessity for a photographer…

B&H is offering a great deal on a 500 GB drive (through 11/30) for only about $90! That’s quite a buy for those of us in the industry when that price would have bought only a few MBs, not GBs…

Take a look at it… A word to the wise…

Western Digital | 500GB My Passport Elite Portable | WDML5000TN 

The 500GB My Passport Elite Portable USB Hard Drive from Western Digital is a portable hard drive in a durable housing, great for use with laptop computers. The drive features an interface that allows it to be connected and powered by USB 2.0, a rotation speed of 5400rpm, a 2MB data buffer and bus transfer rates of up to 60MB/sec. The drive is an excellent storage solution for users who are on the move.

  • Passport drives are available in many eye-catching colors, allowing you to easily distinguish between your drives on sight
  • Includes software for Windows to sync data between multiple computers, as well as 128-bit encryption software to protect your data
  • Bus-powered USB 2.0 interface
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac systems
  • Perfect for data storage and backup, transporting files between computers, and for expanding storage for select Sony Blu-ray players that feature BD-Live functionality
  • 500GB holds 37.5 hours of DV video, 125,000 MP3 songs, or 106 DVD movies
  • Elite drive features automatic backup, a physical capacity gauge, and remote data access capability by MioNet


by Gerald Boerner


“It is his relaxed, realistic pictures of prostitutes in New Orleans’s infamous legal red light district for which he is best known.”
— The Photography Encyclopedia

“The remarkable individuality of Bellocq’s portraits is the individuality of his subjects. With Bellocq’s help. the women have realized themselves in pictures.”
— John Szarkowski

“Bellocq’s photographs belong to this same world of anti-formulaic, anti-salacious sympathy for "fallen" women, though in his case we can only speculate about the origin of that sympathy.”
— Susan Sontag

“It is possible that the pictures were made as a commercial assignment, but this seems unlikely; they have about them a variety of conception and a sense of leisure in the making that identify them as work done for love.”
— John Szarkowski

“Central to the effect the pictures make on us is that there are a large number of them, with the same setting and cast in a variety of poses, from the most natural to the most self-conscious, and degrees of dress/undress.”
— Susan Sontag

“Bellocq’s portraits show the women in various poses and degrees of undress, comfortable with their nudity and at ease in front of the camera; a few appear fully clothed, showing off their finest lace dresses and favorite pets.”
— Jeff L. Rosenheim


Ernest Joseph Bellocq (1873 – 1949)

Bellocq_StoryvillePortraits John Ernest Joseph Bellocq was a professional photographer who worked in New Orleans during the early 20th century. Bellocq is remembered for his haunting photographs of the prostitutes of Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red light district. These have inspired novels, poems and films.

Little is known about his professional work beyond a 1918 commission as company photographer with a shipbuilding firm on the Gulf of Mexico. It is his relaxed, realistic pictures of prostitutes in New Orleans’s infamous legal red light district for which he is best known. The images were discovered by photographer Lee Friedlander in 1958 (and the surviving plates were bought in 1966); the acclaimed Storybook was the resulting volume, culled from the 89 surviving images. He also is said to have shot the opium dens of New Orleans’s Chinatown, but none of that work has survived.


bellocq_portrait x Bellocq was born in a wealthy white Creole family in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He became known locally as an amateur photographer before setting himself up as a professional, making his living mostly by taking photographic records of landmarks and of ships and machinery for local companies. However, he also took personal photographs of the hidden side of local life, notably the opium dens in Chinatown and the prostitutes of Storyville. These were only known to a small number of his acquaintances. In the latter part of his life, he lived alone and acquired a reputation for eccentricity and unfriendliness. According to people who knew him in late life, he showed little interest in anything other than photography. In his early days, he was something of a dandy.

After his death, most of his negatives and prints were destroyed. However, the Storyville negatives were later found concealed in a sofa. In 1971, a selection of the photographs were published in a book entitled Storyville Portraits. They had been made into distinctive prints by Lee Friedlander, using the whole of the glass negatives. These photographs were immediately acclaimed for their unique poignancy and beauty.

The Storyville Photographs

bellocq_untitled 5 All the photographs are portraits of individual women. Some are nude, some dressed respectably, others posed as if acting a mysterious narrative. Many of the negatives were badly damaged, in part deliberately. This encouraged speculation about the reasons why they had been taken and later violated. Many of the faces had been scraped out; whether this was done by E. J. Bellocq himself, his Jesuit priest brother who inherited them after E. J.’s death, or someone else is unknown. However Bellocq himself is the most likely candidate, since the damage was done while the emulsion was still wet. In a few photographs the women wore masks. It is likely that the faces were scraped out for the same reason that masks were used – to protect the identities of the women.

Some prints made by Bellocq himself have since surfaced. These are far more conventional than the full-negative prints made by Friedlander.

Bellocq in literature and film

Bellocq_Prostitue on DeskThe mysteries surrounding Bellocq have inspired several fictional versions of his life, notably the Louis Malle film Pretty Baby, in which Bellocq was played by Keith Carradine. He is also a character in Michael Ondaatje’s novel Coming Through Slaughter and the central figure in Peter Everett’s novel Bellocq’s Women. All these works take considerable creative liberty, portraying a fictional Bellocq in many ways contrary to the known facts of his life and personality.

The photographs have also inspired imaginative literature about the women depicted in them. This includes several collections of poems, notably Brooke Bergan’s Storyville: A Hidden Mirror and Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.

Note: Most of the available images of Bellocq’s work show full frontal nudity. I have selected examples of his work that are not as provocative as many of those available. His nudes were more informal and not artfully posed. Therefore, they were not included. GLB


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

E. J. Bellocq that can be found at…

Also see…

Masters of Photography: E. J. Bellocq

by Gerald Boerner


“Marriage was considered a civil, rather than religious ceremony.”
— Plymouth Colony rules

“[W]e had much damaged our trade, for there where we had [the] most skins the Indians are run away from their habitations…”
— William Bradford

“…of these one hundred persons who came over in this first ship together, the greatest half died in the general mortality, and most of them in two or three months’ time.”
— William Bradford

“Standish’s raid had irreparably damaged the human ecology of the region…It was some time before a new equilibrium came to the region.”
— Nathaniel Philbrick

“…they forsook their houses, running to and fro like men distracted, living in swamps and other desert places, and so brought manifold diseases amongst themselves, whereof very many are dead.”
— Edward Winslow

“Robinson stated that women and men have different social roles according to the law of nature, though neither was lesser in the eyes of God.”
— Unknown

“[Parents are] to provide for the education of their children, to ‘at least to be able duly to read the Scriptures’ and to understand ‘the main Grounds and Principles of Christian Religion.’ ”
— Plymouth Colony rules


Thanksgiving: The 1st Year of the Plymouth Colony

On April 5, 1621, after being anchored for almost four months in Plymouth Harbor, the Mayflower set sail for England. Nearly half of the original 102 passengers died during the first winter. As William Bradford wrote, "of these one hundred persons who came over in this first ship together, the greatest half died in the general mortality, and most of them in two or three months’ time". Several of the graves on Cole’s Hill were uncovered in 1855; their bodies were disinterred and moved to a site near Plymouth Rock.

"First Thanksgiving"

Thanksgiving-Brownscombe "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth"
(1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

The autumn celebration in late 1621 that has become known as "The First Thanksgiving" was not known as such to the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims did recognize a celebration known as a "Thanksgiving", which was a solemn ceremony of praise and thanks to God for a congregation’s good fortune. The first such Thanksgiving as the Pilgrims would have called it did not occur until 1623, in response to the good news of the arrival of additional colonists and supplies. That event probably occurred in July and consisted of a full day of prayer and worship and probably very little revelry.

thanksgiving The event now commemorated by the United States at the end of November each year is more properly termed a "harvest festival". The festival was probably held in early October 1621 and was celebrated by the 53 surviving Pilgrims, along with Massasoit and 90 of his men. Three contemporary accounts of the event survive: Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford; Mourt’s Relation probably written by Edward Winslow; and New England’s Memorial penned by Plymouth Colony Secretary – and Bradford’s nephew – Capt. Nathaniel Morton.[ The celebration lasted three days and featured a feast that included numerous types of waterfowl, wild turkeys and fish procured by the colonists, and five deer brought by the Native Americans.

Early relations with the Native Americans

After the departure of Massasoit and his men, Squanto remained in Plymouth to teach the Pilgrims how to survive in New England, for example using dead fish to fertilize the soil. Shortly after the departure of the Mayflower, Governor Carver suddenly died. William Bradford was elected to replace him and went on to lead the colony through much of its formative years.

King_Philip_C_by_Revere As promised by Massasoit, numerous Native Americans arrived at Plymouth throughout the middle of 1621 with pledges of peace. On July 2, a party of Pilgrims, led by Edward Winslow (who later became the chief diplomat of the colony), set out to continue negotiations with the chief. The delegation also included Squanto, who acted as a translator. After traveling for several days, they arrived at Massasoit’s capital, the village of Sowams near Narragansett Bay. After meals and an exchange of gifts, Massasoit agreed to an exclusive trading pact with the English (and thus the French, who were also frequent traders in the area, were no longer welcome). Squanto remained behind and traveled the area to establish trading relations with several tribes in the area.

In late July, a boy by the name of John Billington became lost for some time in the woods around the colony. It was reported he was found by the Nauset, the same group of Native Americans on Cape Cod from whom the Pilgrims had stolen corn seed the prior year upon their first explorations. The English organized a party to return Billington to Plymouth. The Pilgrims agreed to reimburse the Nauset for the stolen goods in return for the Billington boy. This negotiation did much to secure further peace with the Native Americans in the area.

During their dealings with the Nausets over the release of John Billington, the Pilgrims learned of troubles that Massasoit was experiencing. Massasoit, Squanto, and several other Wampanoags had been captured by Corbitant, sachem of the Narragansett tribe. A party of ten men, under the leadership of Myles Standish, set out to find and execute Corbitant. While hunting for Corbitant, they learned that Squanto had escaped and Massasoit was back in power. Several Native Americans had been injured by Standish and his men and were offered medical attention in Plymouth. Though they had failed to capture Corbitant, the show of force by Standish had garnered respect for the Pilgrims, and as a result nine of the most powerful sachems in the area, including Massasoit and Corbitant, signed a treaty in September that pledged their loyalty to King James.

Mayflower Harbor In May 1622, a vessel named the Sparrow arrived carrying seven men from the Merchant Adventurers whose purpose was to seek out a site for a new settlement in the area. Two ships followed shortly thereafter carrying sixty settlers, all men. They spent July and August in Plymouth before moving north to settle in modern Weymouth, Massachusetts at a settlement they named Wessagussett. Though short-lived, the settlement of Wessagussett provided the spark for an event that would dramatically change the political landscape between the local Native American tribes and the English settlers. Responding to reports of a military threat to Wessagussett, Myles Standish organized a militia to defend Wessagussett. However, he found that there had been no attack.

He therefore decided on a pre-emptive strike. In an event called "Standish’s raid" by historian Nathaniel Philbrick, he lured two prominent Massachusett military leaders into a house at Wessagussett under the pretense of sharing a meal and making negotiations. Standish and his men then stabbed and killed the two unsuspecting Native Americans. The local sachem, named Obtakiest, was pursued by Standish and his men but escaped with three English prisoners from Wessagussett, who he then executed. Within a short time, Wessagussett was disbanded, and the survivors were integrated into the town of Plymouth.

Word quickly spread among the Native American tribes of Standish’s attack; many Native Americans abandoned their villages and fled the area. As noted by Philbrick: "Standish’s raid had irreparably damaged the human ecology of the region…It was some time before a new equilibrium came to the region." Edward Winslow, in his 1624 memoirs Good News from New England, reports that "they forsook their houses, running to and fro like men distracted, living in swamps and other desert places, and so brought manifold diseases amongst themselves, whereof very many are dead". Lacking the trade in furs provided by the local tribes, the Pilgrims lost their main source of income for paying off their debts to the Merchant Adventurers.

Rather than strengthening their position, Standish’s raid had disastrous consequences for the colony, as attested William Bradford, who in a letter to the Merchant Adventurers noted "[W]e had much damaged our trade, for there where we had [the] most skins the Indians are run away from their habitations…" The only positive effect of Standish’s raid seemed to be the increased power of the Massasoit-led Wampanoag, the Pilgrims’ closest ally in the region.

Growth of Plymouth

Plymouth Houses In November 1621, one year after the Pilgrims first set foot in New England, a second ship sent by the Merchant Adventurers arrived. Named the Fortune, it arrived with 37 new settlers for Plymouth. However, as the ship had arrived unexpectedly, and also without many supplies, the additional settlers put a strain on the resources of the colony. Among the passengers of the Fortune were several additional people of the original Leiden congregation, including William Brewster’s son Jonathan, Edward Winslow’s brother John, and Philip Delano (the family name was earlier "de la Noye") whose descendants include President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Fortune also carried a letter from the Merchant Adventurers chastising the colony for failure to return goods with the Mayflower that had been promised in return for their support. The Fortune began its return to England laden with £500 worth of goods, more than enough to keep the colonists on schedule for repayment of their debt, however the Fortune was captured by the French before she could deliver her cargo to England, creating an even larger deficit for the colony.

In July 1623, two more ships arrived, carrying 90 new settlers, among them Leideners, including William Bradford’s future wife, Alice. Some of the settlers were unprepared for frontier life and returned to England the next year. In September 1623, another ship carrying settlers destined to refound the failed colony at Weymouth arrived and temporarily stayed at Plymouth. In March 1624, a ship bearing a few additional settlers and the first cattle arrived. A 1627 division of cattle lists 156 colonists divided into twelve lots of thirteen colonists each. Another ship also named the Mayflower arrived in August 1629 with 35 additional members of the Leiden congregation. Ships arrived throughout the period between 1629 and 1630 carrying new settlers; though the exact number is unknown, contemporary documents claimed that by January 1630 the colony had almost 300 people.

In 1643 the colony had an estimated 600 males fit for military service, implying a total population of about 2,000. By 1690, on the eve of the dissolution of the colony, the estimated total population of Plymouth County, the most populous, was 3,055 people. It is estimated that the entire population of the colony at the point of its dissolution was around 7,000. For comparison it is estimated that between 1630 and 1640, a period known as the Great Migration, over 20,000 settlers had arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony alone, and by 1678 the English population of all of New England was estimated to be in the range of 60,000. Despite the fact that Plymouth was the first colony in the region, by the time of its annexation it was much smaller than Massachusetts Bay Colony.


The most important religious figure in the colony was John Robinson, the original pastor of the Scrooby congregation and religious leader of the separatists throughout the Leiden years. Though he never actually set foot in New England, many of his theological pronouncements shaped the nature and character of the Plymouth church. For example, Robinson stated that women and men have different social roles according to the law of nature, though neither was lesser in the eyes of God. However, Robinson frequently assigned inferior characteristics to the feminine roles. He referred to them as the "weaker vessel".

Mayflower Compact Signing In matters of religious understanding, he proclaimed that it was the man’s role to educate and "guide and go before" women. He also noted that women should be "subject" to their husbands. Robinson also dictated the proper methods of child rearing—he prescribed a strict upbringing with a strong emphasis on corporal punishment. He believed that a child’s natural inclination towards independence was a manifestation of original sin and should thus be repressed.

The Pilgrims themselves were a subset of an English religious movement known as Puritanism, which sought to "purify" the Anglican Church of its secular trappings. The movement sought to return the church to a more primitive state and to practice Christianity as was done by the earliest Church Fathers. Puritans believed that the Bible was the only true source of religious teaching and that any additions made to Christianity, especially with regard to church traditions, had no place in Christian practice. The Pilgrims distinguished themselves from the Puritans in that they sought to "separate" themselves from the Anglican Church, rather than reform it from within. It was this desire to worship from outside of the Anglican Communion that led them first to the Netherlands and ultimately to New England.

Each town in Plymouth colony was considered a single church congregation; in later years some of the larger towns split into two or three congregations. While church attendance was mandatory for all residents of the colony, church membership was restricted to those who received God’s grace through personal conversion. In Plymouth Colony, it seems that a simple profession of faith was all that was required for acceptance. This was a more liberal doctrine than some other Puritan congregations, such as those of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where it was common to subject those seeking formal membership to strict and detailed cross-examinations. There was no central governing body for the churches. Each individual congregation was left to determine its own standards of membership, hire its own ministers, and conduct its own business.

The church was undoubtedly the most important social institution in the colony. Not only was the Bible the primary religious document of the society, but it also served as the primary legal document as well. Church attendance was not only mandatory, but membership was socially vital. Education was carried out for almost purely religious purposes. The laws of the colony specifically asked parents to provide for the education of their children, to "at least to be able duly to read the Scriptures" and to understand "the main Grounds and Principles of Christian Religion." It was expected that the male head of the household be responsible for the religious well-being of all its members, children and servants alike.

Most churches utilized two acts to sanction its members: censure and excommunication. Censure was a formal reprimand for behavior that did not conform with accepted religious and social norms, while excommunication involved full removal from church membership. Many perceived social evils, from fornication to public drunkenness, were dealt with through church discipline rather than through civil punishment. Church sanctions seldom held official recognition outside church membership and seldom resulted in civil or criminal proceedings. Nevertheless, such sanctions were a powerful tool of social control.

The Pilgrims practiced infant baptism. The public baptism ceremony was usually performed within six months of birth.

Marriage was considered a civil, rather than religious ceremony. Such an arrangement may have been a habit that had developed during the Leiden years, as civil marriage was common in the Netherlands. However, the Pilgrims saw this arrangement as biblical, there being no evidence from Scripture that a minister should preside over a wedding.

Besides the Puritan theology espoused by their religious leaders, the people of Plymouth Colony had a strong belief in the supernatural. Richard Greenham, a Puritan theologian whose works were known to the Plymouth residents, counseled extensively against turning to magic or wizardry to solve problems. The Pilgrims saw Satan’s work in nearly every calamity that befell them; the dark magical arts were very real and present for them.

They believed in the presence of malevolent spirits who brought misfortune to people. For example, in 1660, a court inquest into the drowning death of Jeremiah Burroughs determined that a possessed canoe was to blame. While Massachusetts Bay Colony experienced an outbreak of witchcraft scares in the 17th century, there is little evidence that Plymouth was engulfed in anything similar. While witchcraft was listed as a capital crime in the 1636 codification of the laws by the Plymouth General Court, there were no actual convictions of witches in Plymouth Colony. The court records only show two formal accusations of witchcraft. The first, of Goodwife Holmes in 1661, never went to trial. The second, of Mary Ingram in 1677, resulted in trial and acquittal.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Plymouth Colony that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a mass turkey-murdering machine? Looks like about 15 feet.”
— Keith Olbermann

“Clyde the turkey was convicted of being a big, delicious looking turkey in November and thereby sentenced to death and subsequent service at Thanksgiving dinner.”
Montgomery Advertiser

“The President of the United States arbitrarily chooses one of them as the National Thanksgiving Turkey and that particular turkey is pardoned at the last minute.”

“After the ceremony in the Rose Garden, the royal bird gets a lodging in Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia, where it is looked after well enough until it dies a natural death of good old age.”
Thanksgiving Day blog

“This is an election year and Biscuits had to earn his spot at the Whitehouse…you might say it was neck-and-neck…the Vice President and I are here to congratulate Biscuits for a race well run.”
— President Bush

“Alaska Governor Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey, though she said she was amazed to find out that, besides being a bird, Turkey is also a country. Did you see that all over the Internet today? While Sarah Palin was pardoning a turkey, right behind her was a guy slaughtering turkeys. But, see, like most Internet stories, a little half-true. Turns out that, after a couple of minutes listening to Sarah Palin’s voice, the turkeys said ‘Kill us now.’ ”
— Jay Leno

U.S. President Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

P112608JB-0093.JPG National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a ceremony that takes place at the White House every year. The President of the United States is presented with a live domestic turkey, usually of the Broad Breasted White variety. Generally the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board are involved. Since 1989 during the first Thanksgiving of President George H.W. Bush, the president has granted the turkey a “presidential pardon” and thus is spared from being slaughtered.

History and details of ceremony

Truman2_thanksgiving turkeyThe origins of the tradition of pardoning the White House turkey are unclear. Many credit President Harry Truman with starting the informal and lighthearted tradition in 1947. However, the Truman Library says that no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs or other contemporary records are known to exist that specify that he ever “pardoned” a turkey. The Eisenhower Presidential Library says documents in their collection reveal that President Dwight Eisenhower ate the birds presented to him during his two terms. President John F. Kennedy spontaneously spared a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963, just days before his assassination, but did not grant a “pardon.” The bird was wearing a sign reading, “Good Eatin’ Mr. President.” Kennedy responded, “Let’s just keep him.” President Ronald Reagan deflected questions in 1987 about pardoning Oliver North in the Iran-Contra affair by joking about pardoning a turkey named Charlie, who was already heading to a petting zoo.

Since 1989 when the custom of ‘pardoning’ the turkey was formalized, the turkey has been taken to a farm where it will live out the rest of its natural life. For many years the turkeys were sent to Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. Starting in 2005, the pardoned turkeys have been sent to either the Disneyland Resort in California or the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they serve as the honorary grand marshals of Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Lincoln’s Pardons Turkey in 1863

Late in 1863 a live turkey was sent to the White House for the Lincoln family to feast on during the holidays. Tad Lincoln, age 10, quickly befriended the bird. Tad taught the turkey to follow him as he walked around the White House grounds. The turkey was named Jack, and Tad fed him as a pet. When the time neared to prepare the turkey for the Christmas meal, Tad burst into one of his father’s Cabinet meetings. He was crying loudly. 

Lincoln-Window-Turkey Tad told his dad that Jack was about to be killed, and that he had obtained a temporary delay from the “executioner” so he could put Jack’s case before the president. Tad said, “Jack must not be killed; it is wicked.” President Lincoln replied, “Jack was sent here to be killed and eaten…I can’t help it.” Tad, still sobbing, said, “He’s a good turkey, and I don’t want him killed.” Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States of America, paused in the midst of the Cabinet meeting. He took out a card, and on it he wrote an order of reprieve. Jack’s life was to be spared, and Tad raced out of the Cabinet meeting to show the presidential order to the “executioner.”

On Tuesday, November 8, 1864, Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term as president. A special polling place had been set up right on the grounds of the White House especially for soldiers who chose to vote. Jack the turkey actually strutted in front of some of the soldiers and broke in line. Seeing this, the president looked at Tad and asked whether Jack would vote. “He is under age,” was Tad’s reply.

The “holiday turkey incident” may have revived youthful memories for the president. When young Abraham was about eight, a flock of wild turkeys approached the Lincolns’ Indiana cabin. Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s dad, was not home so Abraham asked his mother if he might use his dad’s gun. Nancy Hanks Lincoln gave permission, and Abraham shot and killed one of the turkeys. However, when the boy saw the beauty of the bird whose life was ended, he was very distraught. In Lincoln’s own words, he never again “pulled the trigger on any larger game.” Down deep Abraham was known to love animals generally. He treated them kindly.

Other Events on this Day
  • In 1784…
    Zachary Taylor, the twelfth U.S. president, is born in Orange County, Virginia.
  • In 1832…
    A South Carolina convention passes an ordinance to nullify the Federal Tariff Act, which placed duties on foreign imports.
  • In 1963…
    In Dallas, Jack Ruby fatally shoots Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
  • In 1987…
    The U.S. and U.S.S.R. agree to dismantle medium- and shorter-range missiles in the first superpower treaty to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons.
  • In 2003…
    President George W. Bush pardons “Stars,” the National Thanksgiving Turkey, and its alternate “Stripes”.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation that can be found at…