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Mother’s Day is observed annually on the second Sunday in May. The first official observance was held May 10, 1908, at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton and simultaneously in Philadelphia. The holiday resulted from a vigorous campaign by Anna Jarvis, born near Grafton. Her birthplace and Andrews M. E. Church have been preserved. Her home was headquarters for Union Gen. George B. McClellan in 1861.

A day honoring mothers had been the dream of Jarvis’s mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, who formed Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to combat child mortality. She insisted that every mother in Taylor County belong to one. The clubs bought medicine, inspected milk and water supplies, and learned about health and sanitation from physicians. Members had to swear not to allow political divisions within their organizations during the Civil War. In 1868, Anna Maria Jarvis organized Mothers’ Friendship Day celebrations to squelch festering resentments from the war years.

A bill to establish a national Mother’s Day was introduced in the U.S. Senate May 9, 1908, but failed to pass. Ministers, temperance groups, and women’s suffragists soon convinced 45 states to establish the holiday, and President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first national Mother’s Day on May 10, 1914. Jarvis deplored the commercialization of the holiday that quickly followed.

 

e-WV presents West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Mother’s Day

 

This Article was written by Gerald D. Swick

Last Revised on August 17, 2015

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Sources

Wolfe, Howard H. Mother's Day and the Mother's Day Church. Kingsport, TN: Kingsport Press, 1962.

Taylor County Historical & Genealogical Society. A History of Taylor County. Parsons: McClain, 1986.

Krythe, Maymie R. All About American Holidays. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962.

Cite This Article

Swick, Gerald D. "Mother’s Day." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 17 August 2015. Web. 20 November 2017.

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