Vintage Photos Celebrate Mothers Around the World

For Mother's Day, see how mums have cared for their children for the last 100 years.

Balancing an infant on her hip. Cradling one child while holding the hand of another. Caring for a baby while finishing her work.

The mothers in these vintage images strike familiar poses that span the globe and cross cultural and geographic barriers. Their clothing and hairstyles may differ, but their actions are similar, showing that a mother's love is universal.

Mother's Day itself is over 100 years old and has a somewhat dark history, originally founded by Anna Jarvis to honor mourning women, remember fallen soldiers, and work for peace.

This Eclectic Community Transformed a Desert into a Fantastical Forest

"For Jarvis it was a day where you'd go home to spend time with your mother and thank her for all that she did," historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College told National Geographic in 2014. "It wasn't to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you've ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter."

These photos show the ways different mothers around the world have supported children—their own, their neighbors', and even those of strangers—through the ages.

LEAD IMAGE: A Bedouin mother, elaborately adorned with jewelry, gazes at her infant child in the early 1900s. PHOTOGRAPH BY GARRIGUES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay