Primary Source: Mother’s Day Oberved All Over America
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Boston Herald Monday, May 11, 1914

Today Mother’s Day is a special day around the world, but it wasn’t always so. This article from the “Boston Herald” newspaper describes one of the earliest celebration of the day. Students will read the article and answer questions on the details and the language.

Topic(s): History, Journalism. Skill(s): Summary, Context Clues. Genre(s): Informational

Click for the passage & questions on one printable PDF.


While the roots of a day to honor mothers began earlier, when Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905, Jarvis dedicated herself to promoting the idea of one day to recognize mothers. She started in Philadelphia, and the movement grew quickly. This is a newspaper article from the Boston Herald on May 11, 1914, just nine years after Jarvis began her work.


                                                                       MOTHERS’ DAY
                                                                          OBSERVED ALL
                                                                         OVER AMERICA


                                    Stars and Stripes Fly from Public and Private Buildings
                                         –Supply of White Carnations Exhausted–Boston
                                       Churches  Filled– One Theme for Pulpit Discourses.

“Mother,” all too frequently neglected, came into her own yesterday for a day at least.

From hundreds of buildings in Greater Boston the Stars and Stripes waved in the breeze in her honor. On the lapels of thousands of men and the breasts of thousands of women were carnations in her memory. From many pulpits there were preached sermons glorifying her.

“Mother’s Day” that now has been set aside to honor “the best mother who ever lived, our own” was reported as phenomenally successful, fully twice so much so as last year.

The supply of carnations in florist shops gave out early, and appeals had to be sent to neighboring cities for more flowers for the evening trade. The demand largely exceeded that of a week ago when the suffragists paraded.

Churches all over the city were profusely decorated with carnations in honor of the day and the big outdoor crowd that paraded the downtown streets, the Common and the Public Garden, was decked out in a majority of cases.

The proclamation issued by President Wilson on Saturday officially setting aside the day as Mother’s Day for all government-controlled property, materially aided in the general observance. The flags at the navy yard, at the forts in the harbor and on the Post office were all thrown to the breeze in honor of “mother.” The state and city flags were likewise run up, while the owners of many private buildings in the heart of the city had given orders to have the colors put out.

                                                   Like Independence Day.

In the Back Bay district, flags were in evidence lending a distinctly Independence Day appearance to the streets, while many of the windows contained a myriad of white flowers. The fair weather brought out large crowds in the afternoon and it was noticeable that a large proportion of the men wore tokens of tribute to their mothers.

Many sons working in other cities returned to Greater Boston homes yesterday to visit their mothers, as the new custom advises, and on the whole, the new holiday was one that seemed to please even if only for sentimental reasons. Men vied with each other to show their devotion to mothers, extolling their virtues and passing the day in general enjoyment with them–boys once more. Many sons and mothers were on the cars during the day, and at the places of entertainment last night.

The movement for the observance of Mother’s Day  as a world-wide holiday originated with Miss Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, whose mother died nine years ago. She sent out appeals to preachers and others to have a day set apart each year when men, women and children would honor motherhood. Yesterday was observed in every village, town and city in the United States and Canada.

Pulpits echoed with sermons delivered in eulogy of mothers and children were told of the debt of gratitude they owe and the impelling obligation that rests upon them to render dutiful tribute to the one who watched them from birth to maturity and who ever loves them. The attendance at many of the churches was as large, if not larger than on Easter Sunday.

Comprehension Questions

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