Photos Preserve 4-H History

The following story is from the July 2015 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

In the digital age we can easily capture a special moment with a smart phone, tablet, camera or even a watch. At the turn of the 20th century when 4-H was starting, amateur photography was gaining  popularity thanks to recent innovations of smaller cameras and photographic film.

An article in the July/August, 1938, National 4-H News entitled “Thrills for Camera Fans” recounts the experiences of delegates to the recent National 4-H Club Camp in Washington, DC, taking pictures of famous buildings, historic sites and camp life.

1928 4-H National 4-H Club Conference delegates line up to photograph Mount Vernon.

1928 4-H National 4-H Club Conference delegates line up to photograph Mount Vernon.

The article notes that lots of photos – and even a few movies – were taken at Mt. Vernon. Delegates took a boat ride on the Potomac to George Washington’s home. The Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and other Washington, DC, monuments were also popular.

Before departing, delegates promised their new friends that they’d get prints made to send after returning home.

Over the years, photography became a popular 4-H project. Kodak was a partner in developing national 4-H project guides, and they sponsored the 4-H Photography National Awards program. National 4-H Council invited 4-H photographers to send their best photographs for the National 4-H Photography Contests; winners were featured in the National 4-H Calendars and displayed at events across the country. In recent years video has been included in the 4-H project portfolio.

We rely a lot on photos to help tell the stories of the people, places and events in our 4-H history. Does your club have someone like a 4-H Historian to take photographs of your club members, meetings and special events? Often these photos are compiled into a club scrapbook. National 4-H Week and 4-H Achievement Nights are great times to make displays of your 4-H club photos. Leaders and parents can bring their 4-H photos to tell the club about their special 4-H memories. Always be prepared to capture your 4-H history in photographs. If your club has scrapbooks from past years it might also be interesting to compare the photos from past years with those from this year. Or you could make an exhibit of your club’s history at the local library, county fair or achievement night.