The idea for Father’s Day is attributed to Sonora Dodd, who was raised by her father after her mother’s death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother’s Day, she thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd’s father was born in June, she encouraged churches in her area, Spokane, Wash., to honor fathers that month. The first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane in 1910.
Over the years, the idea spread, and people lobbied Congress to establish the holiday. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson, who had signed a proclamation establishing Mother’s Day, approved the idea, but never signed a proclamation for it. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event to “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”