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A Trip Down Memory Lane – History of AMI & the Golden Rule

APRIL 10, 2023
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Recently I found myself digging around on the internet, searching for historical information about American Mothers and the Golden Rule. What started as a harmless Google search turned into days of research as I discovered bits and pieces of who we are and how we were formed. It’s a deeply fascinating story, one that I could spend hours talking with you about, but I’ll spare you the details and summarize it for you here:

  • 1923 – Americans first participate in “International Golden Rule Day” and are encouraged to donate money to refugee relief through their churches and religious institutions, and by having at least one “Golden Rule Dinner” composed of simple and inexpensive foods, contributing the difference between the cost of this meal and a more expensive meal to charity.

  • 1929 – The “Golden Rule Foundation,” a philanthropic organization (made up mostly of men with deep pockets) to “aid in the alleviation of human suffering” is established.

  • 1931 – Eleanor Roosevelt, then first lady of New York, speaks to a group of advertising executives on behalf of the Golden Rule Foundation. She announces the formation of a new “Mothers Day Committee” of the Golden Rule Foundation, and enlists their help in encouraging Americans to approach Mothers Day with charity in mind.

Eleanor Roosevelt Speech On Sets Golden Rule Week.

“The other nice and pleasant things can still be done on Mothers’ Day, but I think that all of us who are mothers would like to know that what is done on that day is not just for us personally but done in honor of mothers. Therefore I ask your help to change the observance of Mothers’ Day, so that people may think of those mothers who are living and give in their name, and think of those who are gone and would still like to have us give in their name for the aid of the mothers who are in need now.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Click to read: New York Times article on the formation of the Mothers Day Committee (March 3, 1931)

In the months that followed, Mrs. Roosevelt and the members of the Golden Rule Foundation continued to stress the need for aid to benefit hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in the US and Puerto Rico.

Sets golden rule week.

As International Golden Rule Week approached in December, the popularity of having a Golden Rule Dinner (often valued at $0.04 per serving) grew across millions of American homes, as well as in grand hotels and even the White House.

Golden Rule Dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC
Golden Rule Dinner at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC

The Mothers Day Committee soon became the American Mothers Committee, and was eventually incorporated in 1950 as a recognized nonprofit corporation. Today, American Mothers, Inc. carries on the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt, Sara Delano Roosevelt, JC Penney, Phyllis Marriott, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, and many other notable Americans who have made it a priority to care for those less fortunate. Through the continued generosity of our members and supporters, our Golden Rule Grant Fund gifts money to nonprofit organizations across the country whose work benefits mothers and children in need.

In 2019 the following organizations were awarded a Golden Rule Grant from American Mothers, Inc:

  • Cleats for Kids
  • Ronald McDonald House of Springfield
  • Idaho Diaper Bank
  • Serving Area Military
  • Child Mind Institute
  • CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) of South Central Missouri
  • Community Chest of St. Croix
  • Blackfeet Manpower’s Teen Pregnancy Achievement Center

As Mrs. Roosevelt said in her initial plea, “But just at this time, when more appeals are coming in from needy mothers and children than ever before, the aid is much needed.” Those words ring truer now than ever before, and the need in our country remains ever present.

In honor of your own mother and the many incredible mothers who are moving mountains on behalf of others, would you consider giving to the Golden Rule Grant Fund?

With your help we will grow the impact being made by our historic organization, following our guiding principles of the Golden Rule:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


Rebecca Latham is the Chief Executive Officer of American Mothers. She began her career as an on-air radio personality in Tampa, Florida, and relocated to New Mexico in 2003. Rebecca fell in love with the Southwest and was later appointed as the Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department by Governor Susana Martinez in 2015. Rebecca was named National Mother of the Year® in 2017 and assumed the role of CEO for American Mothers in January 2019.


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