Photo provided by Camille Sensiba
The author’s great-grandfather in 1904, Seattle, Washington

Looking Back

In Europe and Latin America, paternal figures are honored in March on St. Joseph’s Day. In the United States, the third Sunday of June is universally acknowledged as Father’s Day. One hundred and nine years ago, the first official Father’s Day was celebrated.

Father’s Day was largely inspired by Mother’s Day, which was originally conceptualized in the 1860s, though it did not become the commercial holiday that we now recognize until 1908. In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman in Spokane, Washington, campaigned at local shops and community centers to establish a paternal equivalent to Mother’s Day. The following year, Washington state adopted the day as a statewide holiday on June 19. Father’s Day eventually grew to become a nationwide celebration, after support from President Woodrow Wilson and President Calvin Coolidge over the next two decades. Father’s Day did not become a federal holiday until 1972, when President Nixon signed a proclamation as part of his re-election campaign.

Gradually, Father’s Day has become more and more commercial, with stores selling over $1 billion each year in Father’s Day merchandise.

The Basket Historical Society preserves and presents the history of the Upper Delaware area. If you are interested in becoming a member or finding out more contact


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