Appalachian Thursday – Mother’s Day Started in WV
Yup. That’s right. The woman who invented Mother’s Day was born in Grafton, WV.
Anna Jarvis campaigned for the holiday in honor of her own mother Anna Reeves Jarvis. Mother Anna was a social activist who organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs during the second half of the nineteenth century. The clubs raised money to help needy families and nursed those stricken by tuberculosis. They also fought for clean water and safe sewage disposal.
Anna’s passion was likely the result of seeing only four of her TWELVE children live to adulthood. It was one of the four–Daughter Anna–who campaigned for the creation of Mother’s Day. A bill introduced in 1908 failed to pass (holy politics!!) but supporters got 45 states to establish the holiday and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May a national holiday.
The first Mother’s Day observance took place at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WV, on May 10, 1908 (who needs passage of that durn bill!). Today, the church is known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine. Swing by next time you’re in WV!