Introducing Women’s History Month at JI: Mother’s Day as a Day of Peace

By May 10, 2014

First, a mea culpa: We at JI screwed up and failed to plan anything for women’s history month. Instead, we ended up doing a month on ritual. Although the month was fantastic and pointed to a lot of new insights and directions for Mormon history, we felt that it was important to devote a month to women’s history. We batted around a few times of the year when we could do it and eventually decided to begin the month on Mother’s Day. That decision, however, wasn’t without some trepidation. There was a feeling that conservative religious groups often reduce women to their status as mothers – lauding them for their ability to have sex and produce a child afterwards. Breastfeeding, housework, and the willingness of some women to stay home are lauded and pointed out as women’s true calling, while the other things that women do – factory work, the production of academic scholarship, etc. are forgotten. Even more marginalized are those women who chose not to or cannot have children or those who remain single throughout their lives. 

As we read about the history of Mother’s Day, however, we felt better about our decision. In the 1850s, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Day work clubs that worked to improve sanitary conditions among the working class, fundraise money to purchase medicines for those that could not afford them, and paid for maids for mothers who had contracted tuberculosis. During the Civil War, she encouraged the Mother’s Day clubs that she had founded to declare neutrality and to help aid to both Union and Confederate soldiers. It was her daughter Anna Jarvis who worked to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. Jarvis’ version of the holiday was more saccharine than her mother’s. She saw it as a way for women to remember the woman that they knew best – their mother. Even she, however, resented the way that it was taken up by the nation. Jarvis hated the commercialization of Mother’s Day and crashed a confectioner’s convention in 1925. Jarvis died in a sanatorium – penniless and wracked with dementia.

We envision this women’s history as being in the tradition Ann Jarvis, her daughter, and the women who initially founded Mother’s Day—not as a holiday for going to the beach or brunch but as a way to organize efforts surrounding sanitation, infant mortality, and health. This month, we plan to explore women’s lives and work in a way that is not limited by their status as mothers but in a way that takes into account the full range of activities in which women engage.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Very much looking forward to this, Amanda.

    Comment by Ben P — May 10, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

  2. Thank goodness the saccharine and sentimentality goes away when this holiday is stripped back to its original roots. AWESOME. Looking forward to the JI posts this month!

    Comment by Tona H — May 10, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

  3. I love the intentions behind the month’s theme! Excited to participate.

    Comment by NatalieR — May 10, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

  4. Oooh! I like the way this is framed! And the insight into the history of Mum’s Day. 😀

    Comment by Sara Lampert — May 10, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

  5. I’m really looking forward to this month. Thanks for the intro, Amanda!

    Comment by J Stuart — May 12, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

  6. […] J Stuart: Introducing Women's History Month […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » “The cheerless, crushed and unwomanly mothers of polygamy” — May 14, 2014 @ 8:01 am


Recent Comments

Steve Fleming on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “And Taylor's translation also says, "The composition of the world, therefore, received one whole of each of these four natures. For its composing artificer constituted…”

Steve Fleming on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “In terms of the similarities between the Timaeus and JS's statment regarding creation out of existing matter, Thomas Taylor's translation said, "But since it is…”

Clark on Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph: “Like I've said, the idea of a pantheon is common in the near east and related regions including Greece and Rome. It's just not that…”

Juvenile Instructor » Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph Smith’s Sermon at the Grove on Isaac Newton's Inclusive Monotheism: “[…] Gods and that our God was the one who created our solar system. Franklin was probably influenced by Isaac Newton who also said there…”

Juvenile Instructor » Inclusive Monotheism and Joseph Smith’s Sermon at the Grove on Benjamin Franklin's "First Principles":: “[…] Franklin’s statement may provide a lens through which to view some of Smith’s final statements about God(s). In the Sermon at the Grove (June…”

Mormon News, September 28–October 2 | Signature Books on Introducing MHA's New Executive: “[…] recently announced it has hired Rob Racker as its new executive director, and Ben Park has posted an interview with Racker at the Juvenile…”