Mother’s Day Turns 100

The Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum in Grafton celebrates the 100th anniversary of the holiday.


The Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton displays programs from 100 years of Mother's Day celebrations.

Photographed by Elizabeth Roth

Through her Mother’s Friendship Clubs, West Virginian Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and women from local churches in Webster and Grafton worked tirelessly to keep their community together during the Civil War. Ann urged the women to remain neutral and provide aid to both Union and Confederate soldiers, teaching the women ways to improve sanitation and health in both nearby encampments. After the war was over, she organized a Mother’s Friendship Day to help unify sides in the healing process. She hoped the event would expand to a larger annual memorial for mothers. But it wasn’t until nine years after her death, after a long campaign by her daughter, Anna Jarvis, that the holiday would be widely celebrated. On May 8, 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum in Grafton will host a Founder’s Festival on May 10 and May 11, 2014. In the two-story log structure that served as the Jarvis’ home, a special ceremony will take place May 10 at 2 p.m. complete with actors portraying Woodrow Wilson and Anna Jarvis—lifelong friends and correspondents—who will re-enact the signing of the Mother’s Day Resolution. Also at the ceremony, the 2014 Mother of the Year, Melissa Stemple, and the West Virginia Mother and Businesswoman of the Year, Nikki Bowman, will receive plaques and take a few minutes to speak. Among the other activities for the weekend, vendors will sell crafts and food and present live music. Guided tours of the museum will be offered all day on both days of the celebration. On the tour, you can see an 1865 Steinway grand piano and belongings of General McClellan, who used the house as his headquarters during the Civil War. A nursery contains 100-year-old baptismal clothes and toys, and another room, which was Anna’s room, displays artifacts from her life, including photos of her from her schooldays.

But a visit to the museum is a worthwhile trip year-round and has even attracted famous visitors like Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. “It’s part of West Virginia history. It’s an amazing story, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” says Kate Quinn, tour guide for the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum. “It’s not far from most places in the state, and even when there’s not a ceremony going on like there will be for Mother’s Day, it’s a nice trip.”

The Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and children get in free. Christmas tours are offered throughout the month of December seven days a week at $3 per person.
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