Father’s Day: A Brief History

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an extremely proud West Virginian. I have made several posts about my beautiful state, including the origin story of Mother’s Day. So it tickled me to find a WV tie while researching for a Father’s Day post.

In 1907, 362 miners died in the Monongah Mine Disaster. A local church in Fairmont, WV, held a service in 1908, honoring the 250 fathers who had died in the tragedy. And though several sites give it credit as being one of the earliest community events to celebrate fathers, it did not gain any national attention, nor did it become an annual celebration.

The credit of the first Father’s Day celebration is given to Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, WA. She and her 5 siblings were raised by their single father. After hearing of Anna Jarvis’ Mother’s Day event in WV, she was inspired to advocate for a similar celebration for fathers. Her efforts paid off, and the first Father’s Day was observed throughout Washington State on June 19th, 1910.

Sonora Smart Dodd, founder of Father’s Day

The celebration spread slowly for several years, and was finally declared a national holiday in 1972, 58 years after the maternal counterpart’s official declaration. An article [link here] on the History Channel suggests part of the reason it may have taken so long to gain its status, was an effort to combine both holidays into one ‘Parents Day’ celebration. Father’s Day in its own right began to regain popularity at the start of WW2, as a way to honor the troops.

Now Father’s Day is a holiday marked by sales on grills, lawnmowers, and all things that remind me of Tim the Toolman Taylor. [Side rant-why do we pamper moms on Mother’s Day, but buy things for dads that mean more work for them? That seems a little unfair to me.] So however you celebrate the dads in your life, go out and enjoy the day!

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