University of Pittsburgh
May 9, 2013

Mother’s Day Story Ideas From Pitt for 105th Anniversary of the National Holiday


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—This year marks the 105th anniversary of the first national celebration of Mother’s Day, which was founded by West Virginia native Anna Jarvis to honor her mother. The following University of Pittsburgh experts can discuss Jarvis’ life and efforts to create and promote the holiday, mothers who are business entrepreneurs, and the use of motherhood to promote social movements. 

Growing Up With the Mother of Mother’s Day

Maxine Bruhns, director of Pitt's Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs, is a second cousin to Anna Jarvis, who initiated a letter-writing campaign that resulted in establishing Mother's Day as a national holiday. Jarvis worked with her former pastor in Grafton, W.Va., to hold the first public celebration of Mother's Day, on May 10, 1908. Bruhns was born in Grafton, W.Va., where Jarvis was raised and where the International Mother's Day Shrine stands in honor of Jarvis and her efforts on behalf of all mothers. Bruhns can relate family stories and West Virginia lore about Jarvis. Bruhns can be reached at 412-624-6150 (office) or

Mothers Balancing Careers as Business Entrepreneurs

 Ann Dugan, founder and director of Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, balanced the challenges of raising two infant daughters with attending Pitt full-time and working as a waitress. Today, Dugan (A&S '82, BUS '85G) helps other women—including her two daughters—balance active business careers with the demands of raising families, customizing recommendations to meet the varied needs of Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence clients and their businesses. She is the editor and coauthor of A Woman's Place: The Crucial Roles of Women in Family Business (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). Dugan can be reached at 412-648-1544 (office) or

Motherhood as a Powerful Political Tool

 Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, says motherhood is not just something to be viewed as private and domestic—it can also be a powerful political tool. From the Million Mom March or Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to the annual Mother's Day Peace Vigils that urge women to oppose militarism, various social movements use motherhood to promote their agendas. Blee studies social movements and has taught and written extensively about how they provide a forum for women and draw women into politics. She can be reached at 412-624-3939 (office) or