Question of the Week
What Philadelphia resident is responsible for creating Mother's Day?
Answer: Anna M. Jarvis
Mother’s Day became a national holiday due to the efforts of a Philadelphia resident by the name of Anna Marie Jarvis. She was born in Webster, West Virginia, on May 1, 1864, to Granville E. Jarvis and Ann Maria Reeves. Before Anna helped spur the Mother's Day movement in America, she was a suffragist and was involved in the welfare and temperance movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early 1900s her family moved to Philadelphia. Soon after their arrival, her mother died in 1905. Two years after this event, Anna held a memorial service in honor of her mother and vowed to start a national holiday that honored all mothers.
Mother's Day, now held on the second Sunday in May, was recognized in 1914. However, within five years, Anna was fighting against the very holiday she helped create. She became unhappy with how the holiday had become commercialized and detested the idea of people only sending a greeting card or candy to their mothers. She along with her sister Ellsinore spent the rest of their lives campaigning against Mother’s Day. Anna's final residence was at the Marshall Square Sanatorium in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She died there in 1948 and was buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd.
Image: Anna Jarvis, photograph by Keystone View Co. Inc. of NY (circa 1900)
About the Author
Look for these history stories every Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The stories, called Memory Stream, are published in the Currents section of the newspaper.