It’s a Great Year for 4-H Calendar Art!

The following story is from the February 2016 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

The National 4-H History Preservation team is delighted to announce that already this year not one or two, but three pieces of original calendar art were found by 4-H Staff. In the seven years since we started working to preserve national 4-H history, only one other National Calendar painting outside of the 4-H Center had been discovered, purchased and presented to the National 4-H Council for the permanent collection.

The first two of this year’s discoveries were made by Allen Auck, Ohio State 4-H Staff. The third was found by Jim Kahler, National History Preservation Team. (Incidentally, he’s the person who found, bought and donated the only other one in the history of our team’s work!)

You Can be a Calendar Art Detective and join these two to help “bring back the 4-H Art. Please be on the lookout for published calendars and original art to help document this rich visual history of 4-H.
Some of the best places to look are antique shows and malls, internet art sales and even flea markets and farm sales. We are not only looking for the original art but also copies of any and all published 4-H calendars.

The national 4-H calendar program was originally authorized in 1937 but the first calendars that we have seen are from 1942. The last known 4-H calendar produced by a company is from 1991. We would like to have an image of every calendar printed between 1939 and 1991.

All three of the “new” art pieces were painted by James E. Seward for the Shaw-Barton Calendar Company of Coshocton, Ohio. At this time, we believe that he created at least 18 National 4-H Calendar paintings beginning with the 1970 calendar and going up through 1987 and possibly longer.


Seward also was one of 100 artists from around the country picked for the National Arts in the Parks Competition. He was also commissioned for portraitures by many organizations. His paintings grace the walls of such companies as the General Motors Corporation, the Wells Fargo Bank, The McDonald Investment Company, and the Will Rogers Museum in Oklahoma.

Remember, we’re looking for both original art and printed calendars to fill in the blank spaces in the archives of the National 4-H Calendar program. The calendar itself, a photograph or a scan of any calendar with the 4-H Clover on it will help us document what calendar company produced it and what year it was released. For some paintings we are missing records of the year or title or the name of the artist. Having a copy of the printed calendar itself would give us that information. Right now we have two pieces of original art and six photographs of 4-H calendar art but we don’t know the year, the title of the image or – in some cases – which calendar company produced them.

You can learn more details about the National 4-H Calendar Program and what records we have found on your 4-H History website at


Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .