4-H’ers Honor Smith and Lever During Second World War

During this centennial year of the passage of the Smith-Lever Act creating the Cooperative Extension Service, it is appropriate to recall one 4-H activity recognizing the creation of that legislation from 70 years ago.

Midway in the Second World War, the Extension Service in cooperation with the Maritime Commission worked out a unique incentive to 4-H achievement on the home front. It was proposed that states be permitted to name Liberty ships after a 4-H or Extension pioneer as a reward for bond sales and exceptional service in food production and conservation.
Liberty ships were the cargo carriers of the war. They were standardized freighters, 441 feet long and of 10,800 tons capacity. They carried food stuffs and war materials abroad, and brought back such scarce items as chrome ore, balsa wood, copper, rubber, ivory, manganese, jute, burlap, hides, tea, coffee and quinine. They cost about $2 million apiece and this was the goal of the 4-H bond sales.

In response to the “Name-A-Ship” campaign, the state 4-H youth intensified their war activities. Georgia club members raised almost $10 million in a war bond campaign and produced in one season enough food to fill a 10,000 ton ship. Their ship was launched and duly named “Hoke Smith,” in honor of the Senator who, as member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, co-sponsored the Smith-Lever Act.
In South Carolina, similar efforts resulted in the launching of the “A. Frank Lever,” thus commemorating on the high seas the other congressional sponsor of the original Extension Act, Representative Asbury Francis Lever, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

In all, 40 ships were christened in these 4-H “Name-A-Ship” campaigns. In the cabin of each ship was placed a plaque stating that the ship was named by 4-H club members of the state, and near the plaque was a history of the man for whom the ship was named, written on parchment and permanently mounted under glass.

World War II Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California

World War II Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California

SS John W. Brown on the Great Lakes in 2000

SS John W. Brown on the Great Lakes in 2000

History Preservation Newsletter
February 2014

WOW, What an Issue!


Report card of the father of a former National 4-H Foundation (now 4-H Council) staff member demonstrates the close tie between 4-H and One-Room schools.

National History Day this year offers 4-H’ers and leaders the opportunity to highlight different aspects of 4-H History under the theme of “Rights and Responsibilities.”

“Voices of 4-H History” captures memories of alumni, leaders, donors and others in audio/video records. That’s the oral “History Preservation” part. At the same time, having “Voices” as part of FilmFest 4-H 2014 is very current, so it’s the “Contemporary History” part. In the “Voices” bit, there’s a rather detailed explanation of how two MD counties are approaching the project; just consider it a “how-to” example if you’re not already involved. In the “FilmFest 4-H” part, you’ll find necessary details for this year’s national 4-H film festival and how you can participate.

Four-H Repositories, History of 4-H Radio, 4-H and One-Room Schools: all of these and more lead to new and ever growing sections of the National 4-H History Preservation Program website:

“Hands-On History” highlights 4-H Electricity projects and how you can bring awareness into your 4-H club meetings.

A very special Happy Birthday wish to National 4-H Hall of Fame Laureate and Centenarian C. J. Gauger; send him a card!

And a Happy Centennial year to all Smith-Lever Act beneficiaries.

Enjoy this issue.

Smith-Lever Act Centennial

The signing of the Smith-Lever Act by President Woodrow Wilson May 8, 1914, was the result of over six years of work by Land Grant Colleges and many organizations nationwide to get aid and support for Extension work at the State and County levels. The act was introduced by Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia and Representative A. F. Lever of South Carolina to expand the vocational, agricultural, and home demonstration programs in rural America. This particular law met with a wide approval in the existing Extension community because it built upon the programs that were already working at the local level and gave them additional funding which allow them to continue and grow.

You can learn more about the history of the creation of the Smith-Lever Act and how it relates to 4-H by reading chapter 11, pages 118-132 in “The 4-H Story” by Franklin M. Reck. This is available in digital format at: http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/books

To learn more about the Smith-Lever Centennial celebrations and see the celebration tool-kit: http://www.extension100years.net/en/administration/about_us/chancellors_office/extension/toolkit/

Smith-Lever Celebration Flash!

University of Florida has just initiated a blog on significant happenings which resulted from the Smith-Lever Act which will be celebrating it’s centennial in 2014. Meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Lever, learn the facts about the act and what it accomplished. The latest entry features Tomato Canning Clubs and canning education taught by Extension throughout history. Darryl Palmer, UFL blogger invites everyone to visit:


1908 Country Life Commission a Key Beginning to Success of Smith-Lever Act

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914, establishing the Cooperative Extension Service, celebrates its centennial next year.

President Theodore Roosevelt’s Country Life Commission, a group of educational leaders who made a thorough study of rural life in 1908 stated that the country was not related closely enough to boys’ and girls’ environment. It pointed out the need for practical education in farming and homemaking and called for increased extension activity on the part of the colleges and gave high encouragement to those country school superintendents and teachers who were already pioneering in this area of farming and homemaking skills. This helped set the stage for the formation of the Cooperative Extension Service.

The National 4-H History Preservation Program has spent most of 2013 working with state and county Extension offices on a project supporting the upcoming centennial. Voices of 4-H History encourages current 4-H members to seek out and record the recollections of  4-H alumni – past staff, 4-H leaders and members – about their personal experiences in 4-H. Information on this program can be found at http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/Voices