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Bust of Mother’s Day founder dedicated at State Capitol

A bust of state native Anna Jarvis was dedicated on Friday, Nov. 9, 2001, in the lower rotunda of the West Virginia State Capitol.

Jarvis, who was born in 1864 in Webster, Taylor County, is credited with bringing about the official observance of Mother’s Day. Her campaign to establish the holiday began in remembrance of her own mother who, in the late 19th century, led local efforts to improve health and sanitary conditions, and to heal the scars of the Civil War in her community.

The first Mother’s Day ceremonies were held on May 10, 1908, at the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May. Mother’s Day has since become an international holiday celebrated in more than 150 countries.

Earlier this year, the Capitol Building Commission approved placement of the bust in the lower rotunda to honor Jarvis, who was the keynote speaker at the 1932 dedication of the Capitol building. Jarvis is the first woman to be honored with a statue in the West Virginia State Capitol.

The bust was commissioned by Thunder on the Tygart Inc. of Grafton, a non-profit organization formed in 1994 to preserve West Virginia history. The group, which led the effort to get the statue placed in the Capitol, also recently restored the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum in Webster, Taylor County. Rendered by sculptor Lorna Vincent-Venter of Grafton, the life-sized bust of Jarvis is made of bonded bronze.

Jarvis, who did not marry and was never a mother, grew up in Grafton and was educated at Augusta Female Seminary in Staunton, Va. She taught at Grafton High School for a number of years and later became literacy editor for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company in Philadelphia. Jarvis died in 1948.

For more information, call Olive Crow Dadisman, director of Thunder on the Tygart Inc., at (304) 265-5549.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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