Today’s blog post comes from curator Alice Kamps. This featured document will be on display from May 9 to May 21.
On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May a holiday for the “public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
To commemorate the centennial of the first national observance of Mother’s Day, this exhibit at the National Archives displays just one of hundreds of thousands of letters written by mothers seeking advice from the Children’s Bureau, a Federal Government office established in 1912 to promote the well-being of mothers and their children.
Even 100 years ago, these letter writers wondered: Is it possible to balance the demands of work and motherhood?
With three children under the age of four, and without “conveniences and modern utilities,” Mrs. Neil Williams was at the end of her rope. If anyone could help her, surely it was Julia Lathrop, Director of the Children’s Bureau.
In heartfelt language, Mrs. Williams wrote to Ms. Lathrop in 1920 to ask how to manage “all these scientific and hygienic duties for babies,” keep up with housework, and love and nurture her children. “I love them until it hurts,” she explained, “and know that, when they are out of their babyhood, I can never forgive myself for not making more of these precious years.”
To all mothers past and present whose hearts are as full as their days are long—Happy Mother’s Day!
And the reply that Mrs. Williams received…..