Mother’s Day was first celebrated on Sunday, May 10, 1908, in Grafton, W.Va., in the Andrews Methodist Church now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine.
Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day.
During the Civil War, the Jarvis family lived in Webster, a community south of Grafton. Anna’s mother, Ann Jarvis, provided nursing care and promoted better sanitation during the war years. After the war, Ann continued her work and strove to bring families and communities back together.
In 1902, the family moved to Philadelphia where Ann would die on May 9, 1905. On the second Sunday in May 1907, Anna invited several friends to her home to commemorate her mother’s life. Anna announced her idea of a day of national celebration in honor of mothers.
Anna Jarvis wrote to Andrews Methodist Church suggesting that the church, in which her mother had taught classes for 20 years, celebrate a Mother’s Day in her honor.
Anna established the white carnation as the symbol of the celebration and developed programming activities in honor of the event. On April 26, 1920, West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock issued the first Mother’s Day proclamation. In 1912, at the General Methodist Conference, Anna was recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day. A joint resolution in the U.S. Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and was approved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
Andrews Methodist Church has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is the focal point for the celebration. In 2008, the International Mother’s Day Shrine and the City of Grafton celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day. Each year, the Carnation Ball is held in April to raise funds for the shrine.
The Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum is located in Webster.