Anna Jarvis was born in the tiny town of Webster, West Virginia. Her birthplace, known as the Anna Jarvis house, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. She was the daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. The family moved to nearby Grafton, West Virginia in her childhood. She graduated from Augusta Female Seminary, now Mary Baldwin College in 1883.
Anna's mother Ann Reeves Jarvis had founded Mothers' Day Work Clubs in five cities to improve sanitary and health conditions. The Mothers' Day Work Clubs also treated wounds, fed, and clothed both Union and Confederate soldiers with neutrality.
On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother's death, Anna held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Church, today the International Mother's Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia, marking the first official observance on Mother's Day. In the following years, Anna Jarvis embarked upon a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday. She succeeded in making this nationally recognized in 1914. The International Mother's Day Shrine was established in Grafton to commemorate her accomplishment.
By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and was once arrested for disturbing the peace. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Both died in poverty. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said,
A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Anatolini, Katherine Lane (2009). Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for Control of Mother's Day. West Virginia Univeristy: PhD diss. p. 1.
- "The Founding of Mother's Day". International Mother's Day Shrine.
- Malcolm S. Forbes, Jeff Bloch (1991). Women Who Made a Difference (reprinted ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-74866-1.
- Arnold Gingrich, "(unknown title)", in David A. Smart, Coronet 18
- "Anna Jarvis and Mother's Day". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- Kendall, Norman F. (1937), Mothers Day, A History of its Founding and its Founder
- Wolfe, Howard H. (1962), Mothers Day and the Mothers Day Church
- Taylor, Louisa (May 11, 2008). "Battling the Mother's Day monster". Ottawa Citizen. p. A6. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- LEIGH Eric Schmidt (1997). Princeton University Press, ed. Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays (reprint, illustrated ed.). pp. 256–275. ISBN 0-691-01721-2. How Jarvis fought the commercialization of the holiday.
- Anna Jarvis and Mother's Day
- Anna Jarvis - Founder Of Mother's Day
- Anna Marie Jarvis at Find-A-Grave
- International Mother's Day Shrine