Mothers Day For Peace

war protest 1937 mother and son illustration

Vintage ad “Delineator Magazine” 1937 “To Be Killed in Action” placed by World Peaceways in NYC

Mothers Day once had more to do with guns than roses.

After the carnage of the Civil War, Mothers Day was started as a protest by women who had lost their sons

Calling for a day for women to promote peace and disarmament, Mothers Day grew out of anti-war activist Julia Ward Howe’s “Mothers Day Proclamation.”

Best remembered as the author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Howe drafted the pacifist manifesto also known as her “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” in 1870 asking women worldwide to protest war and demand universal disarmament.

Three years later Howe organized the first Mothers Day Peace Festival which was celebrated on June 2 1873 in 18 cities throughout the country. Sadly there was little enthusiasm to mount a celebration the following year and the notion faded away.

Mothers For Peace

Mothers Day may have morphed into a sentimental Hallmark moment but mothers have a long tradition of anti-war involvement.

Appealing directly to mothers, the anti-war advertisement pictured above ran in Delineator Magazine, a mainstream American women’s magazine.

In  the spring of 1937 with war brewing in Europe, this daring protest  ad appeared  alongside recipes for husband pleasing meals, advice on hanging dainty curtains and ads for the perfect Mothers Day presents , invited women to join together and protest for peace, and disarmament.

Julia Ward Howe would have been pleased.


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014.


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