With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I began to wonder about the history of the day purported to honor mothers. Did it exist during the U.S. Civil War? If it did, Oney F. Sweet never mentioned it.
It turns out that the underpinnings of Mother’s Day predate the Civil War. This according to Katharine Lane Antolini, assistant professor of history and gender studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She is the author of Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother’s Day (West Virginia University Press, 2014), and she gives presentations about the history of Mother’s Day and the roles women played during the Civil War.
In the 1850s, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a women’s organizer in Virginia, held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality. During the Civil War the groups also tended to wounded soldiers, Union and…
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