As many who have visited our museum have learned, our characters in the 1627 English Village tend to steer visitors away from referring to us as “pilgrims”. William Bradford does use the word once in his history Of Plimoth Plantation. He uses the quote with which I’ve titled this post. But we tend not to think of these people in the classic definition of the word pilgrim.
Dictionary.com defines the word as: a person who journeys, esp. a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: pilgrims to the Holy Land, and that is, I think, how the people we portray would define the word in their time.
That said, we will probably use the word here sometimes for two reasons. Firstly, it is how the people who came to New Plimoth in 1620 on a ship called Mayflower have become to affectionately be known throughout the world. And secondly, it is because we want this blog (and, by extension, our museum) to become more widely known.
When I first heard about this project I became very excited for us. We were entering into new and exciting territory. Now we’ve really gone from 1620 to 2008…just by typing into cyberspace. However, when I typed the word “pilgrim” into Google’s search engine we were nowhere to be found, at least not on the first page where we should be. And the same held true for “Thanksgiving.” Imagine that.
So, while we might use these words here in a manner unfamiliar to the people we represent, they will help us rank higher in the search engines. Don’t worry, our characters may still educate you on the proper use of their English language, but for now—Pilgrim will do just fine.
Lead Colonial Interpreter