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Beltsville Turkeys in Vintage Short Film

Did you know that Greenbelt's neighbor to the north, the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) developed a famous turkey? Called the Beltsville Small White, this turkey was developed as a smaller alternative to traditionally bred larger birds. According to the BARC website, "By the late 1940s, the Beltsville Small White turkey, which averaged 8 to 10 pounds with a high percentage of breast meat, began showing up in stores. Today, this turkey line is part of the pedigree of nearly every turkey sold in the United States."

We recently came across this vintage film produced by the Armour Company's Marie Gifford kitchen that mentions the Beltsville turkey a couple of times. It turns out that Marie Gifford was a fictional character but you'll see plenty of real women in the 21-minute film which details how the viewer can (and should!) be eating turkey throughout the year - not just at Thanksgiving. It's a great peek into another era and what would have been, for the time period anyway, the idealized life of a middle class white family.

The Beltsville Small White, turkey developed at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Photo courtesy BARC

To learn more about how Thanksgiving was celebrated in Greenbelt's early years and to explore the complicated legacy of Thanksgiving, especially for Indigienous people, check out this blog post from our Museum from Home series.

PS - Does anyone else think the voiceover in the film sounds like Lucille Ball? The late 1940s to early 1950s time frame of the production would be right for it to be her. Let us know in the comments.

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