Anna Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905) was a social activist and community organizer during the American Civil War. She is recognized as the mother who inspired Mother’s Day, and as an organizer of Mothers’ Work Clubs. Jarvis was born in Culpepper, Virginia, and moved to Philippi, Barbour County, (West) Virginia with her family when her father, a Methodist minister, was transferred to a church in that town. In 1850, she married Granville Jarvis, the son of a Baptist minister who became a successful merchant in nearby Taylor County. The couple moved to Webster in 1852.
Before the Civil War, Jarvis formed Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve health and sanitary conditions in her area. The clubs raised money for medicine and inspected bottled milk and food. When the Civil War broke out, Jarvis asked the clubs to remain neutral and care for everyone – both Union and Confederate soldiers. The clubs treated the wounded and gave them food and clothing. Jarvis’s daughter, Anna, (1864-1948) campaigned to establish recognition for Mother’s Day in honor of her mother. In 1914, President Wilson signed a proclamation declaring Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
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