Anna Jarvis

Back to gallery

Liberty collection point

Anna Jarvis

  • Values:
  • love
  • unity
  • liberty

Family Activist

  • Share


Changemaker name [38]: Anna Jarvis

Dates [15]: 1864–1948

Quote [200]: You are a convincing orator, a brilliant thinker, you will be able to

obtain what you want. Your Mother’s Day idea will honor you through ages to


Quote credit [50]: Russell Conwell to Anna M. Jarvis, May 10, 1908

Image credit [270]: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Subheader [40]: Inspired by Faith

Synopsis copy [220]: Anna Jarvis, the mother of Mother’s Day, created the

holiday to honor her own mother’s life. A devout Christian, she intended the

day as a simple and spiritual tribute to motherhood.

Image credit [270]: Great Northern Railway via Wikimedia

Subheader [40]: The Story of Mother’s Day

Body copy [220]: Jarvis’s mother, Ann, organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs”

to care for wounded Northern and Southern Civil War soldiers. She also

worked with families and children struggling with illness caused by poor


Image caption [144]: 1864 Harper’s Magazine illustration honoring the

“heroines” of the Sanitary Commission

Image credit [60]: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Body copy [220]: The holiday may stem from a Sunday school prayer, offered

by her mother when Jarvis was 12, expressing hope “that someone

somewhere” would establish a day commemorating mothers for their service

to humanity.

Image caption [144]: Mother’s Day program featuring a photograph of Ann

Jarvis, the mother who inspired the holiday

Image credit [60]: West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia

University Libraries

Body copy [220]: Two years after her mother’s death, on the second Sunday of

the month, May, 10, 1908, Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day celebrations

at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, WV, and in Philadelphia, PA.

Image caption [144]: St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia

Image credit [60]: West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia

University Libraries

Body copy [220]: After Jarvis ordered that 500 white carnations be displayed

on the church altar, the flower became the official symbol of Mother’s Day. It

was chosen because it “symbolizes the purity of a mother’s love.”

Image caption [144]: Mother’s Day seal featuring the white carnation

Image credit [60]: Lancaster Historical Society

Body copy [220]: The popularity of the holiday grew rapidly, garnering much

fanfare and widespread participation. Jarvis was motivated to make the day a

national holiday.

Image caption [144]: 1912 Times Dispatch newspaper coverage of Jarvis’s

campaign to make Mother’s Day a national holiday

Image credit [60]: Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,

Library of Congress

Body copy [220]: Encouraged by the popularity of her idea, Jarvis zealously

campaigned to make the day a national holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow

Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May Mother’s


Image caption [144]: President Wilson’s official proclamation, signed on May

9, 1914, that made Mother’s Day a national holiday

Image credit [60]: National Archives and Records Administration

Body copy [220]: Mother’s Day unified the country during wartime. The day

became a powerful morale booster for World War I and World War II troops.

Image caption [144]: 1942 World War II war bond advertisement encouraging

Americans to purchase war bonds as Mother’s Day gifts

Image credit [60]: National Archives photo no. 179-WP-240

Subheader [40]: Mother’s Day Through the Years

Bubble copy [167]: Jarvis was appalled by and fought against the

commercialization of Mother’s Day. She wished to keep the holiday as a

simple, civic-religious tribute to motherhood.

Date [4]: 1905

Image credit [60]: International Mother’s Day Shrine

Image caption [144]: Program for a Mother’s Day service held soon after Jarvis

created the day

Bubble copy [167]: Early Mother’s Day celebrations were centered around

honoring mothers in church services and encouraging simple acts of


Date [4]: 1920

Image credit [60]: The Hallmark Archives, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Kansas City, MO

Image caption [144]: An early Mother’s Day card designed by Hallmark

Bubble copy [167]: The greeting card company Hallmark began selling

Mother’s Day cards a few years after the day became an official holiday.

Date [4]: 1953

Image credit [60]: Saturday Evening Post / Curtis Licensing

Image caption [144]: Whitman’s Sampler Mother’s Day advertisement

Bubble copy [167]: Within a few decades, elaborate advertising campaigns

were devoted to promoting special products created for Mother’s Day.

Date [4]: 1959

Image credit [60]: The Advertising Archives / Alamy Stock Photo

Image caption [144]: 1959 General Electric Mother’s Day dishwasher


Bubble copy [167]: The post-World War II economic boom created a surge in

production and demand of household products. With it, Mother’s Day gifts

moved far beyond a simple white carnation.

Date [4]: 2019

Image credit [60]: Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

Image caption [144]: Mother’s Day reminder in a retail shop window

Bubble copy [167]: By 2019, Mother’s Day had become a 25-billion-dollar

industry. It is the third largest retail holiday in the United States after

Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Subheader [40]: Legacy of Liberty

Question/alignment statement [179]: Do you think that the commercialization

of holidays, however sacred, is inevitable in a society that values economic


Image credit [270]: olegdoroshin / 123RF

Scripture [200]: Her children show their appreciation, and her husband

praises her.

Scripture credit [50]: Proverbs 31:28

Image credit [270]: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Related changemakers: Rebecca Gratz, Dorothy Day, Jane Addams

Continue through the museum