Here at Mountain West Farm Bureau, we’re gearing up for the 70th Anniversary of our founding back in 1948. A lot has changed since then, including the way America celebrates national holidays. In celebration of both our anniversary and Father’s Day, let’s take a look back at Father’s Day: 1948.
Fathers play a big role in family life in America, which is why it might come as a surprise that it took several years for Father’s Day to become an official holiday nationwide. It all started back in 1910 thanks to the efforts of a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington.
Dodd and her five siblings had all been raised by their father, a Civil War veteran, after the untimely death of their mother. Upon hearing of a local Mother’s Day celebration, Dodd suggested to her pastor that they have a similar celebration for fathers at their church. She had initially hoped to schedule the celebration for her father’s birthday on June 5, but time constraints pushed it back to the third Sunday of June. Dodds kept this tradition going in Spokane for several years before leaving the area to attend college.
In 1913, a bill to establish Father’s Day as a national holiday was introduced in Congress. Three years later, in 1916, US President Woodrow Wilson himself visited Spokane to speak at the town’s annual Father’s Day celebration. Unfortunately, Father’s Day did not have much recognition beyond the Spokane area throughout the 1910s and 20s.
Upon returning from her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1930s, Dodd began to campaign for the holiday on the national level by contacting manufacturers of men’s goods; including ties, tobacco pipes and other traditional “fatherly” gifts. By 1938, a Father’s Day Council had been formed by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers with the goal of national recognition for the holiday.
By 1948 (the year of Mountain West’s founding!) Father’s Day was still not nationally recognized. It is unclear how many people across the country celebrated the unofficial holiday, which fell on June 20 that year. Still, despite not having official status, advertisers in 1948 used Father’s Day to promote their products as gifts for dads and grandfathers (see gallery below.)
Finally, in June of 1966, President Lyndon B Johnson issued a proclamation honoring fathers and designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day across the US. Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a permanent national holiday six years later in 1972. Sonora Smart Dodd, then 90 years old, was finally able to see Father’s Day gain national recognition.
Today, Father’s Day continues to be embraced across the US. According to an annual survey, approximately 75% of American adults celebrate the holiday each year. Attending sporting events and going out to dinner with family are popular ways to mark the event; while many fathers enjoy a day of relaxation at home when Father’s Day rolls around. Cards and gift-cards, clothing, electronics, books, CDs, sporting equipment and tools are among the most popular gifts. However, according to one survey, most dads say they would prefer something handmade or simply time with their families on Father’s Day.
Whether you’re celebrating your dad, step-dad, grandpa, husband, uncle, brother or friend; we here at Mountain West Farm Bureau wish you a fun-filled day celebrating the father-figures in your life. We hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the past, and be on the lookout for similar posts in celebration of our upcoming 70th anniversary!