Ohio Memory Moms

This photograph by Joe Munroe shows a young farm boy unhappy with his mother’s decision to try and clean him up before their Saturday trip into town for shopping and a movie. Via Ohio Memory.

Mother’s Day has been formally celebrated in the United States since the early 20th century, with United States Congress passing a law designating it as the second Sunday in May in 1914. This year, Mother’s Day falls on this Sunday, May 12th, and in honor of this celebration of mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds, today we’re going to look at some of the moms you can find on Ohio Memory.

Smiling mother with infant photograph by Albert J. Ewing. Via Ohio Memory.

Above is a glass plate negative of a mother and her infant, taken ca. 1896-1912 by Albert J. Ewing, a traveling photographer born in southeastern Ohio. The mother is covered with a quilt, a technique known as the “hidden mother”, which allowed a photograph of a small child to be taken and later framed with a consistent backdrop, with the mother cropped out. (Learn more about this in a previous Ohio Memory blog post, “Hidden Mothers, Revealed!”) Mothers weren’t always cropped out of photos, of course, as seen in this glass plate negative of Ruth Weinman Herndon and her mother, taken in 1909. The Weinmans were a prominent 20th century German-American family from Columbus, Ohio.

‘Give Mother a Night Off’ White Castle poster. Via the White Castle Digital Collection on Ohio Memory.

Images of mothers are often used in advertisements–motherhood is universal, allowing consumers to personally connect with the products or services being promoted. In the 1930s, White Castle encouraged use of the convenient carry-out service by showing it as a way to give moms a much-needed break from preparing meals from scratch. Mothers could also be found in war propaganda to remind citizens of their responsibilities to those in need, whether war orphans at home or soldiers overseas.

Ohio Memory also includes pictures of moms from the animal kingdom, like this mama llama and her baby from the Toledo Zoo.

Llama mother and baby at the Toledo Zoo. Courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library via Ohio Memory.

As you honor mothers this weekend with flowers, gifts, food and quality time, we encourage you to also reflect on the images of motherhood from Ohio Memory and your own life that resonate with you. Happy Mother’s Day!


Thanks to Jenni Salamon, Unit Manager, Digitization, for this week’s post!

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