Moms Weekend: A brief history

By Bridget Hynes

Since Moms Weekend first began in 1922, it has evolved over the years to become what it is today. 

According to a document in the University Archives titled “Mothers Association: 50 years of service to the U of I” by Ellen Ferber, both Moms Weekend and Dads Weekend began not long after World War I ended, and they were established in an effort to brighten the mood on campus and re-establish spirit and festivities. It was during this time that marching bands, football rallies and homecoming were also created. 

“Students were eager to share this excitement with their parents,” Ferber said in her article. 

According to the article, the first Dads Weekend was held in the fall of 1921, and the first Moms Weekend was held that following spring in 1922. In a document by Amelia Alpiner Stern, co-founder of the Moms Association, the weekend began when 50 female students from the Women’s League invited their moms to campus on Mother’s Day Weekend. The mothers attended a luncheon and one-day program, Stern said. 

The next year in 1923, twice as many moms attended when males on campus wanted to invite their moms to the celebration, said Stern. 

It was during this second Moms Weekend that the idea for a Moms Association began, Ferber said. Stern, a 1886 graduate, and then-Dean of Women Maria Leonard, established the Moms Association with the approval of President David Kinley. The association aimed to “inform other mothers about the University, and through sharing experiences with their students, help them realize that the University belongs to them, too,” Ferber said. Annual dues for the inaugural year of the Moms Association in 1923 were 50 cents, and Stern was elected as the first president. 

According to documentation by Stern, the association survived during the depression even when they weren’t able to communicate about membership because of a lack of funds in 1931. Today, there are no fees to join the Moms Association, and any “mother figure” of a University student can join, said Elaine Wrinkle, president of the Moms Association. 

Wrinkle said she thinks the Moms Association and Moms Weekend have gotten better over the years. Planning for each Moms Weekend begins about a year in advance, she said. 

“Truly this weekend began because daughters, and eventually sons, wanted their moms to see where they were at — to meet their friends, participate in activities on campus and see the University. And that is still true today,” Wrinkle said. 

The only year that moms weren’t able to come to campus for Moms Weekend was in 1931. According to Stern, travel was restricted during 1931, which kept moms from coming. It is unclear whether these restrictions were a result of the Great Depression. 

Nonetheless, Moms Weekend events were held over the radio on WILL Radio station. Students prepared the Moms Weekend programs and mailed them home to moms.  During the radio program, the Glee Club sang and the president of the University spoke.

In 1952, the Moms Association Scholarship Fund was set up to award scholarship money to students. Eleven years later in 1963, the Amelia Alpiner Stern Scholarship Fund was set up to honor the Association’s first president and provide free tuition and fees to at least one undergraduate student per year. 

Today, the association organizes a yearly Scholarship Raffle. This year, the association will start selling tickets for their raffle on Friday. The winner will be announced on the Sunday of Dads Weekend 2015, and will win scholarship money amounting to 50 percent of the proceeds from the raffle. The other 50 percent will be given as scholarship money to Moms Association scholarship applicants.

All Moms Association-hosted activities for Moms Weekend will take place at the Illini Union. Activities include the announcement of the Amelia Alpiner Stern Mom of the Year Award at the Kick-off Reception and the Moms Weekend Brunch. 

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