History of Father’s Day

History of Father's Day

A Babylonian youth named Elmesu carved the first known Father’s Day card in clay nearly 4,000 years ago. His special message wished his father good health and a long life. William Jackson Smart of Spokane, Wash., a man ahead of his time, is the inspiration for modern-day Father’s Day. Smart was a widower and Civil War veteran who was both father and mother to his six children for 21 years after the death of his wife. Smart’s daughter, Sonora Louise (Mrs. John Bruce Dodd), got the idea for Father’s Day in 1909 while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church. She encouraged local churches to institute a Father’s Day observance the following year (1910) on one Sunday in June, the month of her father’s birth. Through her efforts, interest in the celebration of Father’s Day grew and spread to other cities and states.

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Although many congressional resolutions proclaiming a national Father’s Day were introduced through the years, the holiday was made official in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed a presidential resolution that declared Father’s Day as the third Sunday in June.

  • 1920s
    Cards were hand-colored before printing evolved, and this one offered Dad a hand as well.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1920s give dad a hand
  • 1930s
    This Father’s Day card honored the dad who was proud of his wheels.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1930s car
  • 1940s
    Was Dad a fashion plate in the 1940s? Not so much…
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1940s dad in hat
  • 1940s
    Images of fathers sitting in their favorite chair, reading the newspaper, were popular at this time, and for decades beyond as well.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1940s dad with newspaper
  • 1950s
    Hunting and fishing were common Father’s Day themes mid-century and beyond.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1950s dad fishing
  • 1950s
    Here’s a Fifties father getting his daily dose of news along with a Father’s Day tribute.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1950s dad with newspaper
  • 1960s
    Dad releases his inner hippie for a groovy Father’s Day.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1960s groovy dad
  • 1960s
    Again in his favorite chair, with his favorite reading material…
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1960s dad in his favorite chair
  • 1970s
    Depictions of Dad in pursuit of their hobbies have been popular Father’s Day images, like this scene of Bowling Dad…
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1970s bowling dad
  • 1970s
    And if he wasn’t a bowler, never fear, there were golfing and fishing choices as well.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1970s golfing dad
  • 1980s
    Dad brings home the bacon (or steaks) and cooks it on the grill.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1980s grilling dad
  • 1980s
    Dad’s always been a great guy, and now we’re telling him so.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1980s great dad
  • 1990s
    Every grown daughter knows that “Have you changed the oil in your car?” is Dad-speak for “I love you.”
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1990s checking car
  • 1990s
    Finally! No fishing, no golfing, but a day to relax!
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 1990s relax dad
  • 2000s
    Dad gets to shine as a helping, loving hand with the family.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2000s loving dad
  • 2000s
    Poking fun at Dad’s habits was one of the signs of Father’s Day times.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2000s dad's habits humor
  • 2000s
    Music added fun to Father’s Day cards as the century turned…
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2000s Card With Sound
  • 2010s
    Little ones can sing or speak a special message to Dad with recordable sound cards.
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2010s Recordable Sound Cards
  • 2010s
    It looks like a normal greeting card, but hold it up to a webcam, and see the design come to life on your computer screen. A Father’s Day greeting that’s a century ahead of where we began…
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2010s augmented reality card
  • 2010s
    Love you still. Technology may change, but the need for love and connection do not. Happy Father’s Day!
    Hallmark Father's Day cards through the years: 2010s love you still