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Anna Marie Jarvis: founder of Mother's Day

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Anna Marie Jarvis is credited as the founder of Mother's Day. Her own mother expressed a wish for a day to honor mothers after a Sunday School lesson on mothers of the Bible when Anna Marie was 12. This inspired her to take up her mother's cause after her mother's death in 1905.
photo credit: Michael Drummond

Anna Marie Jarvis

Jarvis was born in West Virginia May 1, 1864. She was the ninth of 11 children born to Ann Marie Reeves and Granville Jarvis. Her mother was a teacher, and Jarvis became a teacher as well. She never had children.

Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis

Jarvis' mother's work with women's organizations inspired the creation of mother's day. The elder Reeves Jarvis organized a series of Mother's Day Work Clubs in their area to improve health and sanitary conditions. The clubs raised money and hired women to help families in which the mothers had tuberculosis. Doctors later got on board with the idea and it spread to other towns. During the Civil War, the mothers' group helped clothe and feed the soldiers. In spite of her work helping other mothers, eight of Reeves Jarvis' own children died in childhood.

Mother's Day

Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis died on May 9, 1905. Daughter Anna led a small tribute to her mother at Andrews Methodist Church on May 12, 1907, and dedicated her life to establishing a nationally recognized Mother's Day. The first official Mother's Day ceremony was in Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. Six years later, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Congressional Resolution setting aside Mother's Day as a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May.


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