Hallmark Honors 100 Years of Father’s Day

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This month, Hallmark shares the centennial limelight with a holiday the company is known for helping to celebrate, as Father’s Day turns 100 years old.

The ways we celebrate and acknowledge Dad and his role in our lives has changed over time, but our wish to affirm him has remained constant.

This month, Hallmark shares the centennial limelight with a holiday the company is known for helping to celebrate, as Father’s Day turns 100 years old.

Sonora Smart Todd of Spokane, Wash., launched the first Father’s Day to honor the father who raised her and five siblings after her mother died. The city of Spokane celebrated Father’s Day for the first time on June 19, 1910, with proclamations and a parade. Todd fought most of her life to make the holiday a national observance, which finally happened in 1972. Today, people in more than 50 countries observe Father’s Day.

Although Hallmark made its first Father’s Day cards in the early 1920s, cards celebrating dads have been around since the company’s founding in January 1910.

"The ways we celebrate and acknowledge Dad and his role in our lives has changed over time, but our wish to affirm him has remained constant,” says Lynley Farris, Hallmark historian.

Here’s her perspective on how Americans have viewed dads, and how those views have shaped Father’s Day cards through the years.

1920s-1930s: Hallmark’s earliest Father’s Day cards depict Dad’s interests or show him as a great guy and head of the household.

1940s-1950s: Baby-care book author Dr. Benjamin Spock begins to engage men in child-rearing, and cards respond by portraying Dad in humorous activities with his children. He’s also seen in stereotypical roles - sitting in a favorite chair reading the newspaper or wearing a suit and going to the office.

1960s-1970s: Fathers become more active in parenting, and cards embrace this family shift. Another cultural shift is the increasing amount of leisure time, and more cards show hobbies like golf and fishing, or pop culture fashion references.

1980s-1990s: Humor is one of the top ways we communicate with Dad, allowing the card-giver to connect from a safe, emotional distance. Masculine images of wildlife and the outdoors dominate more serious cards.

2000s-today: While humor remains important, cards are more appreciative, expressing Dad’s supportive role in the family. Technology enhances the cards we give him, playing music or enabling the giver to record a special message. New in 2010, cards allow the giver to record themselves singing karaoke-style or use augmented reality to make card images come to life on a computer screen.

“Real life continues to influence what we see in greeting cards,” Farris says. “If it’s part of today’s culture, it likely will show up in the greeting cards we send to those we love.”

To see how Father’s Day cards have changed over 100 years, visit our centennial site. For reflections on Father's Day from Hallmark employees, visit the Hallmark Signatures Blog.

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