The Birth of a Holiday… Mother’s Day Becomes Official!

May 5, 2023 by  
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As I was researching a collector’s Mother’s Day themed request this past week I happened upon a striking Rotogravure Section with a front page image of a mother and her 2 children.  The image, titled “MATERNAL LOVE”, by Hughes Merle, perfectly captured the warmth, innocence and depth of a mother’s love for her children and her children’s trust of and love for her. Completely taken with the image, I checked to see if there was any correlation with Mother’s Day. This Rotogravure was not only published on Mother’s Day but more specifically, the 1st official Mother’s Day. notes the following:

“The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.

Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis—who remained unmarried and childless her whole life—resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood.

By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.”

On April 15, 1914, the New York Times had a small article stating… “The Federal Government is lending its assistance to the movement, and on that day the clergy of the whole country will be asked to preach sermons regarding the general welfare of the home and so help to make Mother’s Day of practical value. The celebration of this day is in no way connected with woman suffrage, although the association is friendly to the suffrage movement wherever it may benefit the home.”

While the above statement may not hold the warmth and tenderness often associated with Mother’s Day, it is nice to see formal recognition of the truth often summed up as, “the Mother is the heart of a family and home.”

With Mother’s Day merely a week away…

In addition to the various Mother’s Day themed original newspapers we have posted at, our staff also created a Mother’s Day related video to go along with our sister-store on Etsy. Enjoy.

YouTube player

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