Anna Marie Jarvis wanted a national holiday to honor the dedication and sacrifice of America’s mothers. She wasn’t the first person to propose a Mother’s Day – but her campaign caught the imagination of the people and the ears of the politicians.
Congress officially recognised Jarvis’s Mother’s Day in 1914 – but the indefatigable campaigner had allied herself with businessmen with vested interests in such an annual event. Mother’s Day soon span out of its creator’s control and caused an embittered Jarvis no end of heartache.
Correction: The initial release of this podcast made reference to Grafton, Virginia instead of Grafton, West Virginia. I apologise to listeners for the error.
Two indispensable sources for this episode were Katherine Lane Antolini, Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother’s Day, and Leigh Eric Schmidt Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays.
Other sources include
Planet Money “The Holiday Industrial Complex”
Howard Wolfe Behold Thy Mother: Mothers Day and the Mothers Day Church
Norman Kendall Mothers Day: A History of Its Founding and Its Founder
Bruce Handy and Barbara deWilde “Op-Art; The Mother of All Holidays” The New York Times May 13, 2007
Vibeke Venema “Anna Jarvis: The woman who regretted creating Mother’s Day” BBC News 10 May 2020
Jonathan Mulinix, “Why Mother’s Day Founder Anna Jarvis Later Fought to Have the Holiday Abolished” Mental Floss
Time Magazine “Mother’s Day, Inc.” 16 May 1938