Posted by Ancestry Team on November 22, 2016 in Holidays

In the early 20th century, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Bureau of Home Economics to educate homemakers on the best ways to sew, clean and prepare food. As part of the USDA initiative, expert cooks worked tirelessly testing various Thanksgiving turkey recipes to determine which made for the most flavorful turkey.

“Continual testing and experimenting with various recipes has taught Uncle Sam’s cooks that many a prize bird has become a ‘ham’ when improperly prepared. The best recipe – so far discovered by the Bureau of Economics – is demonstrated in the following set of pictures, made under the supervision of Miss Lucy Alexander, Chief Cooking Specialist. Miss Alexander, a graduate of Vassar and the University of Illinois, has been on her present job for eleven years. Mrs. Jessie Lamb, Assistant Cook, is stuffing the turkey under the watchful eye of Miss Lucy Alexander. The turkeys on the table will go into the ovens at regular intervals, and be tasted and judged by a group of experts who are determining which diet and feeding program will produce the best flavored meat.” Source: Library of Congress, 1937.

[Cornell bulletin for homemakers]: Part V, Number 546 - How to Cook Poultry, 1942.
Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers: Part V, Number 546 – How to Cook Poultry, 1942.

Do you have a secret family recipe for Thanksgiving turkey that has been passed thru the generations?


  1. Caroline Horton

    This was the same time my mother, Sara Jo Harvill Hamilton, was a home economist with the Alabama Power Company, having graduated from Alabama College (now University of Montevallo) in Alabama. I have a lovely 8 x 10 of her in her white uniform and shoes standing by a stove in the power company show room. She was an expert at cooking turkey and dressing! I am the third generation to use the same dressing recipe.

  2. sara danison

    In the 60s I was surprised to read in the Women’s Section of the paper that white loaf bread sometimes could be used in stuffing! White loaf bread was ” store bought” bread in our family.

  3. I really surprised when i see this post.I am the third generation so i don’t have any idea about the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),now i got some new information from this post.I think we follow this same recipe .Thank you.

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