The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On May - 9 - 2009
Another day has arrived that is noted on calendars and announced to us daily in advertisements. What to do with this day, how best to celebrate, to acknowledge, to pay tribute to those maternal figures in our lives. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis is who inspired its inception, so it seems only fitting to look at this woman to better understand this second Sunday in May.

Born in Virginia 1832, she married a Baptist minister and started organizing Mothers’ Day Work Clubs. The clubs raised money and worked to improve health and sanitation. During the Civil War the Mothers Day Clubs treated wounds, fed and clothed both Union and Confederate soldiers and worked to create unity in a community otherwise divided by conflicting political ideals. Ann died on May 9, 1905 and it was her daughter Anna who then dedicated her life to establishing a national holiday in honor of her mother. The first official Mother’s day ceremony was held in 1908 on May 10. By 1914 Anna’s efforts were rewarded as President Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional resolution officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. But the story does not end here, after Anna successfully had Mother’s Day proclaimed as a nationally recognized day she quickly became dissatisfied with the direction the holiday took. She would spend the rest of her life and all of her estate fighting against the commercialism that her holiday came to embody.

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and daughter Anna My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (left) and daughter Anna (right). West Virginia Division of Culture and History Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

It would seem that this day is filled with contradiction, on the one hand rooted in the philanthropic efforts of a woman and a daughter who wanted to pay tribute to her mother, yet simultaneously it is a day that its creator would spend considerable effort and wealth arguing against. Early on this day became consumed by holiday cards and gift sales and the love that these items were said to represent. Would it not be best to simply come to terms with the commercialized nature of this holiday and therefore stop recognizing it? I know mothers everywhere are likely gasping in disapproval. Throughout the years I have taken this path of avoidance. I have often chosen to put up with the guilt and associated label of being a bad daughter and dare to ignore the holiday, luckily I have a mother who is not so easily offended. But on this Mother’s Day I am going to give a gift, and yes dare I say it acknowledge a day that even Anna grew to detest. I am going to acknowledge Mother’s Day for what the woman who inspired it did for the world. Ann’s efforts to aid woman, create proactive change in her community and support peace in times of conflict are important and should be recognized. So that is my gift to you mom, an acknowledgement of all the work you have done to make a better life for me, my sister and family at large. Recognition for all the kisses and hugs and support throughout the years and all that you have done to make a better world for the two little girls you help raise. I, like Anna, want to pay tribute to the efforts of a wonderful woman. So this is my gift to you Mom, a bit of history, some nice photos of mothers from years ago and warm sentiments expressing my love and gratitude. My present might not be wrapped in shiny paper or come with a gift receipt but I think it will make my mother smile all the same.
Happy Mother’s Day

1850 mother daugher My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

ca. 1850. Unidentified Mother & Child. Daguerreotype. George Eastman House Photography Collection

1910 mother and children hulling strawberries My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

05/26/1910. Mother and children hulling strawberries at Johnson’s Hulling Station, Records of the Children’s Bureau, 1908 – 1969. Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S),

1911 Scottish immigrant mother My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

ca. 1911 Scottish immigrant mother and children upon arrival.  Québec, Quebec Credit: William James Topley/Library and Archives Canada/PA-010151.

1914 Chicago mother My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

1914. Written on border: “1914 Civics Soc., Chicago” Photographed by Hine, Lewis Wickes. New York public library Digital collection1914_Queen_Wilhelmina_&_Juliana

Circa 1914. Juliana with her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, of the Netherlands. Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.


1889-1916. Photograph may have been taken by James or May Ballantyne. Credit: Photograph attributed to James Ballantyne/Library and Archives Canada/PA-133837.


1889-1916. Mother & baby. Ottawa, Ont. Credit: Photograph attributed to James Ballantyne/Library and Archives Canada/PA-133866.


1924. A Hupa mother and child, [California]. Photographed by Curtis, Edward Sheriff, 1868-1954. Library and Archives Canada/PA-039537

1933 1960 Miccosukee mother and baby My Mothers Day.days on the calendar

Between 1933 and 1960. Miccosukee mother rocks her baby in a hammock. Bedell Collection. State Library of Florida.

For more information about the history of mother’s day here are a few links.

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Categories: Calendar

2 Responses

  1. Crystal Raven says:

    Love the pics!!!

  2. says:

    Love the pics. Happy Mother’s Day!

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