A mother and six children posing for a photo.
An undated photo of the Postill children with their mother Eleanor. Happy Mother’s Day!

Social Justice Roots

The roots of Mother’s Day can be traced back to late-19th Century United States. After the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of Philadelphia initiated “Mother’s Friendship Day” to unite mothers from both Union and Confederate backgrounds. In subsequent years, Mother’s Day activities maintained a social justice focus, with activists like Julia Ward Howe and Juliet Calhoun Blakely organizing events promoting peace, abolitionism, and temperance.

Despite years of advocacy by Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Jarvis, Mother’s Day did not gain national recognition in the U.S. until 1914. It was President Woodrow Wilson who ultimately designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, fulfilling Jarvis’s long-standing efforts to establish it as an official holiday.

Vernon Keeps pace

The relatively young City of Vernon kept pace with these social developments in the United States. During the 1910s, Mother’s Day services were held in several churches of varying religions. By 1921, the Vernon News claimed that “Mother’s Day is becoming more and more a recognized Sunday when everyone’s thoughts turn to mother, the best woman in all the world.” The newspaper also made note that the day could be observed by wearing a white carnation, emblematic of the purity, beauty, fidelity, and peace of motherhood.

During the 1930s, various local businesses started to view Mother’s Day not just as a chance to honor maternal figures but also as a commercial opportunity to promote and sell their products. In May 1938, Nolan’s Drug Store promoted their chocolates, perfume, greeting cards, and photo frames, urging readers not to overlook their mothers on Mother’s Day.

By the 1940s, Mother’s Day had gained recognition in numerous countries worldwide. The Vernon News described how the occasion was marked in Canada and elsewhere, emphasizing the importance of gestures like acts of kindness, visits, letters, gifts, or tributes to honor mothers. The newspaper then tenderly suggested that perhaps every day of the year should be treated like Mother’s Day, recognizing the profound debt of gratitude owed to those who fulfill nurturing roles in our lives.

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts!

Gwyneth Evans, Archives Manager