How Did Father’s Day Come About?


Unlike Mother’s Day whose origin was traced since 1914, Father’s Day came later. Father’s Day originated mainly from two events.


Grace Golden Clayton/Photo credit: Find Me A Gift

In 1907, an explosion at the Monongah mine in West Virginia killed hundreds of men who were working underground. Although officially, 362 were recorded to have died, it was believed that death toll rose to over 500. The inaccuracy was due to the lack of records of workers at that time. Touched by this tragedy, Grace Golden Clayton suggested to Reverend Robert Thomas Webb at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, that it would be wonderful if fathers were given a special day to be honored and remembered. She also suggested that the Sunday nearest her father’s birthday, July 5, 1908 become the day of celebration of Father’s day. It was said that the first Father’s Day service was held on July 5, 1908 at the Williams Memorial M.E. Church, South. The sermon was preached by Dr. R.T. Webb at the request of Mrs. Charles Clayton.

sonora dodd

Sonora Dodd/Photo credit: Today

On the other hand, in Washington, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, whose mother died during childbirth, was raised by her father together with 5 other siblings. Attending a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909 at the age of 27, she was inspired to promote a celebration to honor fathers as well owing it to her affection and close relationship to her father. In time, her efforts gained support from other groups and Father’s Day was celebrated by Washington State on June of 1910, the month of her father’s birthday. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved of the idea and in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge too supported the idea of a national Father’s Day. It was not until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. Finally in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution and great advocacy at the World’s Fair in Spokane in 1974.

Other Theories of Father’s Day

Harry C. Meek also claims that he was the originator of the idea of Father’s day. The Lions’ club in Chicago, to which he was the president, is said to have celebrated the first Father’s day close to his own birthday in 1915. To recognize his achievements, Lion’s Club of America gifted Mr. Meek a gold watch, with “Originator of Father’s Day” inscribed on it, on his birthday, June 20, 1920.

At present, Father’s Day is being celebrated not just in the United States, but in the whole world. Although different in dates, the celebration of the Father’s Day festival has a common goal – to express gratitude and pay tribute to the fathers who have played an important role in our life and the society.

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