“Yes, Virginia, National 4-H Congress was Once Held in Chicago”

At a recent NAE4-HA conference two 4-H Extension agents were having a discussion. One was overheard posing a question to her colleague, “Did you know a 4-H Congress was once held in Chicago?”

For those of us old enough to have actually experienced one or more of the National 4-H Congresses in Chicago (which were actually held in that city for over 70 years), that comment would probably be a shock. But, then again, the last 4-H Congress in Chicago was 24 years ago. There may well be no need for a young Extension agent to know about these Chicago events.

Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, site of the National 4-H Congress for 75 years

But, yet, there is. National 4-H Congress in Chicago is a large part of national 4-H history. It was the premiere event on the annual 4-H calendar. It was the showcase for 4-H to the entire American population. It was the culmination of individual 4-H project achievement which extended from the club level to the awarding of scholarships in Chicago. Tens of thousands of 4-H’ers accomplished project work for six, seven, eight or more years with a goal of becoming a state winner and going to Chicago.

The history and the memories of National 4-H Congress in Chicago must be preserved. For over five years the National 4-H History Preservation team has been researching, documenting and writing this history… over 200 pages of history and still not complete! We will never be able to tell the whole story. It really cannot be done. Plus, much of the history, the records, the programs and the photos have been lost.

Guy Noble, director of the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work (a predecessor to National 4-H Council), who conducted the first Armour tour of boys and girls in Chicago in 1919, and continued on with National 4-H Club Congresses for over 30 years, explained that National 4-H Club Congress cannot be described on paper. One has to be a part of it and “feel” it to fully comprehend it. Perhaps Noble was correct. Clayton Yeutter, U.S. Trade Representative and architect for NAFTA, and later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, often remarked to audiences that every time he walked through those doors of the Chicago Hilton, chills of excitement ran down his spine remembering back to that first time he entered the Hilton’s lobby as a young Nebraska 4-H’er coming to 4-H Congress.

The Federal Extension Service Weekly Newsletter for December 10, 1970 began with a feature by Walter John, director of Information Services, FES, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Titled “4-H Congress Greatest Youth Happening in Today’s World,” John commented on the event upon his return to Washington, D.C. from Chicago. Referring to 4-H Congress, he explained, “It had just about everything that appeals to youth – serious discussion, entertainment, awards, good food, music, dancing and lots of public attention.” He went on to express his admiration for the tremendous interest and participation shown by the individual national and regional donors. “The National 4-H Congress is the epitome of success in joint action of government, education and industry in helping youth find its role in this world.”

The delegates to Club Congress were the top achievers in the National 4-H Awards programs, year after year. Many of them had worked untiringly for years to win their trip to Chicago. They had diligently assembled project record books which were judged by a national 4-H record judging committee. For many, if not most, their trip to Chicago to attend 4-H Congress was the crowning achievement of a 4-H career as a member. It was their goal. For those who received 4-H award scholarships while in Chicago, Club Congress had even more meaning. It often helped them to go to college and to choose a career. So what made 4-H Congress so very special? For many delegates it was a week of firsts. Some had never traveled on a train or airplane. Staying in the largest hotel in the world. Some had never ridden in an elevator… and the Conrad Hilton Hotel had an elevator lobby with at least 10 or 12 elevators… in the early days all manned by courteous elevator operators. For many, to sit down at an elegant banquet and be served by dozens of waiters in white coats and gloves, live music playing and face a place setting with china and crystal and six or eight pieces of silverware… definitely a new experience.

The history segment on National 4-H Congress-Chicago is near completion and will be in the National 4-H History section (at the bottom under 4-H Program Events) on the History Preservation website: http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/History_National.asp

Over the next several issues of the 4-H History Newsletter we will be featuring various aspects of this very important event in 4-H’s history… the one that was held in Chicago!

We welcome your comments at: Info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com

History Preservation Newsletter
October 2017


Thanksgiving is coming and there’s much to be thankful for:

The many strengths of 4-H, volunteer leaders sensitively guiding youth, the public/private partnership supporting the program, dedication of Extension Educators, enthusiastic members, and a rich, rich history.



Mulligan Stew is 45 Years Old

From the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, 4-H programming used television, and the Mulligan Stew nutrition series was one of the most successful. Aimed at 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, it was embraced by TV stations, schools and Extension and reached some seven million kids


4-H Congress Started in Chicago

Thomas E. Wilson, President of Wilson & Co., invited some 4-H club boys to lunch in 1916. That event, though small, was the forerunner of what became the hugely successful celebration of youth achievement. Chicago welcomed the 4-H extravaganza for over 70 years.







Teachers, leaders and aids guided millions of youth, at school and in clubs, through a unique, nutrition learning-adventure with the help of six 4-H produced, fast-paced television programs and a comic book in the 1970s.




Centennial Clubs Over 100 Years Old

Several of the first 4-H clubs in some states are still flourishing, over 100 years later. It would be fun to research the history of your own club and perhaps nominate it for a place on the National 4-H History Map.


How Does Minnesota Do It?

Many people have asked how to start a 4-H History initiative in their state and here’s a suggestion from Minnesota. It starts with their “Vintage 4-H” group, and they’ve prepared an outline of what to look for as you put a program in place.



Santa Catarina Clubes 4-S Stage a Reunion

This is the third and final chapter in the story of Joe Thigpen, a 4-H Alum and Peace Corps volunteer who returned to Brazil after 50 years to find his host family and meet the “kids” he worked with in 4-S.



As You Prepare for Thanksgiving …

… whether or not you indulge in the traditional feasting, take a minute and remember the many things in 4-H for which we are thankful – especially its rich history – and enjoy this issue!



Enjoy this Issue!


History Preservation Newsletter
October 2017

70 Years of Congress in Chicago

The premier 4-H program almost every fall since 1922 started in Chicago and stayed there for 70 years before moving south. Some will recall the glamour, mystique and exhilaration of those early years.


4-S Peace Corps 50-Year Reunion

Part two of this reunion story brings 4-H alum Joe Thigpen back to his Peace Corps family and 4-S clubs in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Connections are strong and memories are fondly rekindled.


So Goes Maine

Another in our series of how various states are using or celebrating 4-H History in their programs. Maine has initiated a blog highlighting various historic 4-H topics.




4-H in 2027

We celebrated the 4-H Centennial in 2002 and in 2027 4-H will be 125 years old. It’s not too early to start thinking about how we want to tell the 4-H story. Start making plans and share your ideas.


The Sound of 4-H Music

Songs have long been a tradition in 4-H and two of the most traditional songs were introduced at the 1927 National 4-H Camp (now Conference) on the Washington, DC Mall. Can you name them?






4-H Congress, Then and Now

State winners to National 4-H Congress pose in front of the 4-H Headquarters in Chicago in 1929. Youth and adult planning group for the 2016 4-H Congress in Atlanta.


Autumn Colors Paint the Countryside…

… And maybe you’re near a source of freshly-pressed apple cider. If so, grab a glass of the refreshing nectar and enjoy this issue.


 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



History Preservation Newsletter
August/September 2017

National 4-H Week

What started in 1926 was later modified in 1942 and again in 1945; in all iterations, it showcased the work and achievements of 4-H members nationwide. This year, it’s October 1-7. Do you know what other years 4-H Week was modified?



4-H Poppy Seeds for WWI Memorial

Your club can sell poppy seeds to help raise money for the planned World War I Memorial in DC and support their own local activities.


GIS War on Adult Obesity

Tennessee 4-H’ers reached 16,000 people from 150 countries with a demonstration of how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map community health care issues leading to obesity.




Does your Club have a 4-H Charter?

Starting in 1919, USDA issued Club Charters to “official” 4-H Clubs. Some are real treasures and the practice continues today.


50 Year 4-H PC Reunion

A 4-H alum returns after 50 years to Santa Catarina, Brazil, to check the status of his family and the 4-S clubs he started as a Peace Corps Volunteer.


Calendars Helped Finance National 4-H Center

Do you have an old 4-H calendar in your attic? We’d like to see it. National 4-H calendars, a program which began in 1949, and ran for six decades, helped build and maintain the National 4-H Center.


We hope you enjoy this issue.


 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



History Preservation Newsletter
July 2017


“Riding it Forward”

Joe Ostaszewski, Biggest Loser Finalist and Florida State footballer bicycled 2,972 miles to take the 4-H Health Pledge; a big boost for 4-H members!


A History Mystery Solved

Faced with only a photo, a History Team member uncovered a 4-H Stock Show romance and more from the 1929 International Livestock Exposition. Do you have a “History Mystery” photo you can research?


J. C Penney was a long-time enthusiast of the 4-H Program. As early as 1929 he purchased the Grand Campion Steer, owned by a 4-H’er at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago.


95 Years Ago . . .

4-H awarded the nation’s Healthiest Boy and Healthiest Girl. Though those awards are no longer given, the diet and lifestyle of former winners are definitely worth replicating.


65 Years Ago . . .

The US Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to recognize the 50th anniversary of the beginning of 4-H. The collector’s item honors a significant milestone in 4-H History.


Letters to the Editor

A new feature. A 1957 IFYE Alumna shares the inspiration she received from Kathleen Flom, long-time 4-H international staff member. We’d also love to hear from you!


We hope you enjoy this issue.


 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



History Preservation Newsletter
May-June 2017


400,000 Website Visits!

After 10 years of the 4-H History Team existence, and six years of counting website visitors, your 4-H History website has received over 400,000 visits worldwide. Thanks for your support.



4-H WWI Support

As patriotism swept the country, 4-H members joined the war effort enthusiastically. With slogans like “Back up the Cannon with the Canner,” the government promoted conservation and food preservation.



Camp Vail Trained Youth for War Effort

In 1917, the Theodore N. Vail School of Agriculture started training non-farm youth to meet the critical farm labor shortage due to the war. Camp Vail, later a part of the Eastern States Exposition, was seen as “a means to show the public the value of club work.”


National 4-H Camp, Hits a Milestone

Ninety years ago this month the first 4-H Members pitched their tents on the Washington Mall to learn, share and make their presence known in the Nation’s Capital.

Delegates and chaperones meet National 4-H Staff as they arrive at one of the early National camps in Washington DC.



“Son of a Southern Chef” wins TV Cook-off to Gift 4-H

Lazarus Lynch, a multimedia personality and chef beat out 15 other celebrity chefs to win a substantial financial gift for 4-H. The TV cooking show “Chopped” sponsored the competition. Google his name!


First Lady Lou Hoover Addressed 4-H

In a 1929 radio broadcast during National 4-H Camp on the DC Mall, Mrs. Hoover asked 4-H clubs to “be of service to their communities.” Continuing her interest in gender equality, Mrs. Hoover stressed that boys had an equal responsibility in homemaking.



We Ask Your Help – Again

You are the most important resource in preserving 4-H History and we rely on your kind assistance to help accomplish our goals. This time, we’re looking for a copy of the 1953 national 4-H poster; the original was painted by W. C. Griffith who painted 18 4-H posters and 16 national 4-H calendars.



 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



Making History – 4-H Alumna Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson embarked on her third mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in mid-November. Peggy grew up on a farm in Iowa, and was an active 4-H member. In a recent video produced by NASA and shown on PBS American Graduate Day, Peggy talked about the importance of 4-H in her life and today in the lives of millions of youth; see the interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYWk9v0jKYc .

Peggy has made NASA and space history during her career:

  • With her third launch into space for the Expedition 50/51 ISS mission, Peggy
    • became the oldest woman in space. She celebrated her 57th birthday aboard the ISS.
    • became the first woman to command the ISS twice on April 9, 2017.
    • she seized the record for most spacewalks by a female in March of 2017
    • surpassed Jeff Williams’ record of 534 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes of cumulative time in space. When she returns to Earth, she’ll have spent more than 650 days in space
  • In her first mission, Expedition 5/6 in 2002, she was named NASA’s first Science Officer.
  • In her second mission in 2007-08, she became the first woman to command the ISS for Expedition 16.
  • After returning from Expedition 16, she became the first woman appointed as chief of the NASA Astronaut Office.
  • During her first two missions, Peggy performed six spacewalks, totaling 39 hours and 46 minutes.

While Peggy is in space, NASA and 4-H will release a series of learning activities about how NASA prepares crews to live together in space and how youth can develop these skills for their personal lives and future education and careers. The project will be announced in December 2016 and will become available online in monthly installments on the NASA and NIFA 4-H web sites during January – April 2017.



 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



History Preservation Newsletter
April 2017

In 1969 National 4-H Week launched a year of Learning to Serve. Learning to Serve through 4-H is older than the pledge itself. This month our newsletter explores 4-H Service at several junctures in 4-H History. If you’re interested in seeing other vintage 4-H Posters you can view them at: https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/exhibits/show/poster-collections/elsie-carper-collection-on-ext



4-H Service in World War I

Members and Leaders joined the national movement to support of the war effort: raising and preserving food, recycling clothing, raising money for special support projects.


National 4-H Day of Service

April 2017 has been dedicated as a month to celebrate community service and service-learning throughout 4-H. The month of celebration will culminate with a National 4-H Day of Service on Saturday, April 29. 4-H’ers will undertake club, community and state service projects as part of the “True Leaders in Service” initiative in honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Month.




Contemporary 4-H History: A Health Summit

250 4-H’ers recently met at the to analyze data about the health of their communities. The 4-H Geospatial Leadership Team helped others access the data and interpret the findings, comparing the health of their communities with that of others in the state, and pinpointing gaps in health care.


“4-H History 101” Aims to Launch this Fall

A new online course is being developed by the 4-H History Preservation Leadership Team to help orient new staff about the philosophical base of 4-H. It includes a working definition of the public/private partnership which undergird the program at local, state and national levels. If you’d like to help write or serve as a reviewer, write to info@4-HHistoryPreservation.com


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How Old is the 4-H Flag?

We know the National 4-H Supply Service (4-H Mall) marketed 4-H flags in 1925, the year it started. Do you know of any 4-H flag older than that? Let us know.


4-H in Space: Then and Now

An Indiana 4-H’er designed a scientific experiment with chicken embryos to be carried into space on the 1986 Challenger mission, but it was lost in the explosion. Redesigned, “Chix in Space” went up in 1989 and was the forerunner of continuing worldwide embryonic research in space by NASA. And this week, 4-H alumna Peggy Whitson sets new records as commander of the current NASA mission.



Here on Earth, enjoy the spring-time and this issue!


 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



News Article Index Now Available

A complete listing of all articles on the 4-H History Preservation News site is now available. To view the index, look for the ‘Article Index’ link at the top of the page. It is the fourth link to the right…

     History Home      News Home     Newsletter     Article Index     Calendar     RSS      

You may also view the index using this link: http://News.4-HHistoryPreservation.com/Article-Index/


 

Please help us preserve 4-H History . . .



History Preservation Newsletter
March 2017


4-H Alumna & NASA Astronaut Speaks to 4‑H’ers from Space

Peggy Whitson, Commander of NASA’s Expedition 50/51, a 4-H alumna, answered 4‑H’ers’ questions via down-link from the International Space Station (ISS) to Johnson Space Center in Texas. While on the ISS, she will surpass the current record of 534 days in space.


Tompkins County, NY, Starts a 4-H Memory Wall

As a way to promote awareness of 4-H history, Tompkins County mobilized the theme “4‑H Memories Last a Lifetime” by collecting memorabilia (1932-2015) for a Memory Wall at the 4-H Fair. Members, leaders and parents contributed items and county staff cleaned out old files to populate the exhibit.


 

These are examples of National 4-H Charters that were cherished by many 4-H members and families for the things that were learned and projects completed by countless youth through loving guidance of dedicated adult volunteer leaders. Both charters were signed by the then-current Secretary of Agriculture and represent charters issued by USDA to clubs across the country at that time.

The Mavis 4-H Club (left) of Pennington County, Minnesota, received their charter in what appears to be 1944 and met charter requirements through 1978 (34 years), while the Ellis Hollow Homemakers (right) of Tompkins County, New York, received their charter in 1958 and continued to complete the year’s work through 1981 (23 years).

 


Who was Jessie Fields Shambaugh?

A film by an Iowa 4-H’er entered in the 2016 “FilmFest 4‑H” answers that question for you. Adam Clayton’s film took second place in the “Voices of 4‑H” category. This year’s “FilmFest 4-H” is July 23-27 in Kansas City.


Horse Racing’s Youngest Jockey Won the Triple Crown in 1978

Steve Cauthen, a 4-H’er from Kentucky, started racing in 1976; in this first race, he came in last; in his second race he came in first. In 1977 he led the nation in horserace wins with 487. The Triple Crown was not won again until 2015.



Tell us the Year this 4-H Calendar was Printed

In the 10 years the 4-H History Preservation Team has been working, we’ve collected 88 different 4-H calendars, printed calendar images and pieces of original artwork. Here’s one recently uncovered on which we have no information; we’re hoping your vivid 4-H memories can help us date it.


4-H History Preservation Team Celebrates 10th Anniversary!

The National 4-H History Preservation Program started in 2007 with a group of seven volunteers, mostly retired national level 4-H staff; we now number 12, including some current staff and some retired state staff, all still volunteers. The number of visitors to our website is rapidly nearing 200,000 globally and our Newsletter reaches some 5,900. We’re grateful for that generous response. We rely on your continued support; please email us.



Enjoy this Issue!