Mother’s Day History

Why did Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day in the U.S., campaign against the holiday she created?Anna Jarvis

Photo of Anna Jarvis, courtesy of Encyclopedia Brittanica

Following the U.S. Civil War, Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, organized work clubs to teach childcare in rural communities.  She also organized “Mothers Friendship Day” when mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

Ann Reeves passed away in 1905, so Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother and the sacrifices made by all mothers for their families.  The first Mother’s Day celebration was in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908.   Four years later, many communities and churches were honoring Mother’s Day.   Then in 1914, Mother’s Day became a nationally recognized holiday.

While Anna Jarvis could celebrate her campaign to recognize mothers, the commercial interests of florists, card companies, and other retailers seized the opportunity to sell gifts for Mothers.  Anna Jarvis tried to keep the holiday for families to visit their mothers or attend church if they deceased.

However, within a few years, Mother’s Day commercial interests became dominant.  Anna Jarvis was so turned off that she campaigned for over 20 years against the profiteering and even wanted it removed as a national holiday.

Instead of candy, an expensive dinner, or flowers, speak with your mother about her childhood, lessons learned, and unusual experiences.   This gives her the priceless gift of sharing her life experiences and her time.

To stimulate legacy conversations and record family history, Legacy Stories offers a downloadable guidebook called Memories from My Life.  Legacy Stories also provides memoir services to produce multimedia digital memoirs and video memoirs to capture their voice and unique stories.

If your mother or Grandmother is deceased, share stories and pictures about them with your children to build your family legacy.

However, you choose to honor your mother (or someone who provided a mother’s role), pause on May 8th to remember their life and values passed on to your family.


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