Mother, My Dear: Historical Greeting Cards

mother's day card
Source: P.F Volland Company Records, Special Collections

In the United States, we've been celebrating mothers on the second Sunday in May for over a hundred years. Most everyone has made or purchased a Mother's Day card at some point for their mom or a special mother figure. In the past, cards received in and from Chicago might have been published by the P.F. Volland Company.

In 1908, the same year that Mother's Day was founded in the United States, the Volland Company opened at 58 E. Washington. The new publishing company launched a series of greeting cards, gift books, framable mottos and specialty envelopes, among numerous other kinds of stationery and printed goods.

The Volland Collection in the Special Collections and Preservation Division at Chicago Public Library includes tens of thousands of greeting cards for all occasions, from Valentine's Day to graduation, and, of course, one of the most popular card-giving days, Mother’s Day.

Mother's day card
Source: P.F. Volland Company Records, Special Collections

The cards for moms in the collection span from the 1930s to the 1950s, and are addressed not only to “Mother,” but also to “My Sweetheart’s Mother,” “My Other Mother,” “the Mother of My Friend” and “My Mother and Father,” as well as to grandmothers, aunts and sisters among others. Many include ribbon embellishments, and some even have sachets of dried flowers tied to their covers.

I can't help but wonder if my mother or grandmother might have picked out a card like this once upon a time for her mother. Which card do you think your mom would like best?

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