To mark the 50th anniversary of 4-H, a commemorative 3 cent stamp was
produced. According to the release distributed by the United States Post
Office Department on December 10, 1951:
"Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson today announced that the 4-H
Club commemorative 3-cent postage stamp will go on sale at Springfield,
Ohio, on January 15, 1952.
"At the same time Mr. Donaldson made available the description of the
stamp that will honor the 4-H club movement. The stamp will be 0.84 by 1.44
inches in dimensions, arranged horizontally, printed by the rotary process,
electric-eye perforated and issued in sheets of 50. The color of the stamp
will be green. An initial order of 110,000,000 4-H Clubs commemorative
stamps has been authorized.
"The central design of the stamp depicts a group of typical farm
buildings at the left, while in the center appears the symbolic four leaf
clover, with the letter "H", in white face Gothic, superimposed on each of
the four leaves, representing head, heart, hands and health. Directly
beneath this symbol is inscribed: 'The 4-H clubs', in dark Gothic.
Dominating the right side of the design are a teen age boy and girl, facing
the club symbol. In the lower left corner of the design the denomination 3
cents is shown in shaded modified Gothic. A solid dark panel forms the top
of the stamp in which appears the wording: To Make the Best Better, in
white face Roman. The bottom of the stamp is also formed by a solid dark
The 4-H stamp was designed by C. R. Chickering. M. D. Fenton was the
A stamp publication reports an interesting story on the germination of
an idea to create the stamp:
(from January 10, 1952 National Stamp News)
Fairborn, Ohio--B. W. Jacobson of this city passed along some
interesting local information on the 4-H commemorative stamp that will be
issued in Springfield, Ohio on January 15th, 1952. He tells us that--
The first 4-H club was originated in Springfield on Jan. 15, 1902, by
A. B. Graham, now living in retirement in Columbus.
Approval of the stamp is tantamount to recognition by the federal
government of the validity of the local claim that Clark County is the home
of the movement known today as 4-H. That claim was once considered
debatable but in recent years has been substantiated beyond doubt through
The movement for a 4-H club stamp was launched nearly a year ago by
Sun Farm Reporter George M. Barmann. The proposal for a postal
commemorative was supported editorially by the Sun.
Springfield, Ohio Sun Editorial - Feb. 27, 1951
"On January 15, 1902, a Springfield Township school superintendent, A.
B. Graham, organized the first club for farm youth in Clark County. So far
as the records show, he founded the first club of its kind in the United
States. It is pretty generally agreed that his enterprise marked the
beginning of 4-H Clubs. Thus, when the 4-H Golden Jubilee is celebrated
next year, special attention will be given to the club's origin here in
"It is appropriate that Clark Countians should seek to commemorate
the 50th anniversary of the 4-H movement. It is here that the youth
organization got its start; it is here that the initiative should be taken
in reminding Americans of 4-H achievements during the last half-century.
"Last week the Clark County Federation of Approved Rural
Organizations, representing 4- farm groups, endorsed a proposal to promote
the issuance of a commemorative U.S. postage stamp marking the 4-H
anniversary. The Federation thereby took the lead in a project which may
bring the Ohio Jubilee to the attention of the nation. The idea of a
memorial stamp should receive wide support, from local rural and urban
groups and from State organizations.
"The final decision in the matter of special stamps rests with
Postmaster General Jesse Donaldson. He has ruled that only 12 such stamps
shall be issued each year; so far none has been authorized for 1952. We
agree, then, with U.S. Representative Clarence J. Brown that "if any
commemorative stamps are to be issued at all, one should be issued to mark
the foundation of the 4-H Clubs."
Instrumental in observing final approval of the stamp was
Representative Clarence J. Brown of the Seventh Congressional District, who
conferred with Mr. Donaldson and found him sympathetic toward the idea of
honoring 4-H Clubs.
Support for the proposal came indirectly from the admission by a
Michigan man, commissioned to write a 4-H history by the National Committee
on Boys and Girls Club Work, that the Graham club had the "priority of
date" in the movement. the historian visited various sections of the nation
to do research on the early history of the farm club movement.
The "4-H" label was adopted many years after the club movement was
under way. Early literature on the Graham club contains reference to the
Of important significance in the development of the club movement was
the publication of a pamphlet in 1903 by Dean Thomas Hunt of Ohio State
University on the novel Clark County farm youth organization. Dean Hunt
pointed to the new club as a model for those who would form similar groups.
Among recipients of the pamphlet were 100 agricultural papers throughout
A logical assumption is that the farm publications which had been
furnished the novel story were important in giving impetus, if not actual
inspiration, to the formation of similar groups which within the next few
years were being formed throughout a wide area. The pioneers who organized
these groups, Graham enthusiasts have always conceded, were also important
developing the club movement.
Scores of organizations, groups and publications endorsed the proposal
to issue the commemorative stamp. Area groups supporting the proposal
included the Clark County Federation of Approved Rural Organizations
(comprised of representatives of 40 farm groups and agencies), the Clark
County Historical Society, Clark County Farm Bureau, Springfield Stamp
Society, Madison County 4-H Club Council, Executive Committee of the clark
County Fair Board and the Columbus Philatelic Club.
The Clark County Agricultural Extension Service sent the Postmaster
General photostatic copies of pertinent correspondence authenticating the
claim that springfield is the cradle of the 4-H movement. The Extension
Service in Champaign and Madison Counties also were active in promoting the
Among individuals active in seeking authorization of the postal
memorial was Mrs. Clara V. Reed, 422 E. High Street, a member of Mr.
Graham's original club who presented to Mr. Donaldson a plaque
commemorating the founding of the Clark County farm youth group.
Special ceremonies launching the special stamp were held on January 15, 1952
in Springfield, Ohio (115,945,000 of the 4-H stamps were issued). The following
feature reports festivities of the day:
(from March 1952 issue, National 4-H News)
The Nation, with a big assist from Springfield and Clark county, Ohio,
paid tribute to 4-H Club work on January 15, 1952, the date of issue of the
4-H Commemorative Stamp.
Ceremonies honored A. B. Graham, Ohio pioneer who held a meeting of a
boys and girls club on that date 50 years ago. Fifteen of the original club
members were present for the occasion.
At a morning meeting at Springfield High School, Graham was presented
an album containing a block of 50 stamps autographed by the Postmaster
General. Osborne A. Pearson, Assistant Postmaster General of the United
States, made the presentation to him and to representatives of 4-H local
groups who collaborated in staging the celebration.
In accepting, Graham noted that the opportunity of licking stamps was
a privilege denied the first 10 Presidents. In a reminiscent mood, he
opined that in his 84th year he would be learning a new avocation, stamp
collecting. At the same time, he said, it wasn't much different than his
early work as school superintendent because he would still be licking and
4-H'ers in the county were excused from school and made a
standing-room-only crowd for the ceremonies. Junior leadership girls
ushered, and Malcolm Bock, 1952 National 4-H Club Camp delegate who now
also leads a club, led the 4-H pledge.
The Tecumseh High School band provided part of the musical program,
with vocal help from Springfield High School Chorus and the Catholic
Central A Cappella Choir. The chorus sang "A Place in the Sun" and
"Dreaming," while the choir helped close the program with "The Lord's
Noontime honors came from the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Wm. P.
Wetherald, Zanesville, Grand Worthy President, presented The International
Civic Service Award, a plaque and citation. The citation read:
To A. B. Graham, Citizen, Educator, Youth Leader and Pioneer Spirit,
whose deep concern for the welfare and education of rural boys and girls
has led to the development of the 4-H movement which has inspired more than
15,000,000 young farmer citizens to become better farmers, homemakers and
community-citizens, we present our Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles,
International Civic Award.
In the 54 years of this organization only 14 presentations have been
made to such individuals as Charles P. Taft, Cardinal Francis J. Spellman,
Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Babe Ruth and J. Edgar Hoover.
In his acceptance Graham declared: "This recognition, as I see it, is
much more for a cause resulting in what is now known as 4-H Club work than
for any one individual connected with its initiation.
"Your order, by the ceremony of today, is recognizing the development
of the character elements in the farm youth of this and 41 other countries
around the world. You are recognizing citizenship."
Guests were entertained during the luncheon by three club members:
Mildred Jenkins of the Tape Measurettes 4-H Club at New Carlisle played the
marimba and Julianne McCarley and Nancy Crossland of the Thrifty Nifties of
'51, from near Springfield, joined in several accordion duets.
Master of ceremonies for both events was Herbert A. Lannert,
postmaster. He told the group that well over 400,000 pieces of mail bearing
the 4-H stamp would be canceled that day. Biggest single mailer was the
Stran-Steel Division, Great Lakes Steel Corp., with over 16,000 envelopes
addressed to farm leaders throughout the country.
Graham was magnificent throughout the day, staying the afternoon for a
meeting with local leaders and State and county Extension staff members. He
described his early work, as chronicled in the recently published "The 4-H
Story," a history of club work written by Franklin M. Reck.
He mentioned that plans were made in 1901 for this first meeting of
the club in 1902--an out-of-school meeting so it would not be considered a
part of the school program. So enthusiastic were the young people and the
educators who learned of the work, that the idea spread and during the next
four years 60 clubs were formed and membership grew to 3,000, Graham
In 1905 he was called to the State College as Ohio's first
Superintendent of Extension.
The day's events were built around him, and, with amazing vigor of
voice and mind, he carried the role well. He told the group that men over
the centuries have searched for the fountain of youth, but that he has
found it spiritually. Comments from those who listened showed they agreed
that he had done so.
Graham told of his youth on the farm; of how he started very early in
life to raise a pig, then the next year, two pigs, and how happy he was
when he "graduated to calf-hood" the third year. He had helped his mother
with her sewing, and, he told his audience, to prove that his interest was
in girls' as well as boys' work, he had just made the dress which his
granddaughter was wearing to this recognition ceremony.
He spoke, he said, as symbol of the work initiated 50 years ago by 85
boys and girls. Without good followers there will never be good leaders.
From those early beginnings there has grown a great force for
citizenship--the 4-H program. Development of integrity, trustworthiness,
honesty, acting as well as telling the truth, cooperation with fellows,
aspiration to prove themselves rather than merely to excel over another are
but a few of the elements that make good neighbors and good citizens, he
In closing the festivities, Robert Grieser, chairman of the program
committee and president of the Clark County 4-H Club Council, pointed out
an unexpected result of the cooperation required to stage the event. City
folks had learned to know rural people and to understand some of their
problems. The same was true for the rural groups. As a result, he forecast
an even brighter future for both Springfield and Clark county.
Community leaders receive albums of the 4-H Commemorative Stamp from Assistant
Postmaster General Osborne A. Pearson.
Those who helped stage the day include:
From Left: Osborne Pearson, B. H. Pershing, president, Clark County Historical Society;
Bland L. Stradley, vice-president, Ohio State University; A.B. Graham;
L. E. Drum, president, Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and
Robert Grieser, president, Clark County 4-H Club Council.
The A. B. Graham Club, members of the original boys and girls club organized by Graham in
Springfield, Ohio, in 1902, held a reunion at the time of issue of the 4-H Commemorative Stamp.
The 15 present included:
First Row from left: Mrs. C. W. Irle, Mrs. Clyde Quick, Mrs. Frank Layton, A. B. Graham,
Mrs. Jessie Butler, and Mrs. Clara V. Read.
Standing, from left: Theodore Spears, Albert Gray, Charles Schneider, J. W. Fenton,
Earl Hyslop, Karl Hirtzinger, Harry F. Otstot, B. L. Tavenner,
J. Lynn Gower (club president) and W. A. Shutrr.
Other Stamp Efforts
In preparation for a 1987 committee meeting to discuss consideration
of a new 4-H stamp, Elsie Carper, Extension Service, USDA, prepared the
following background on stamp efforts since the issue of the 1952 4-H
The only stamp honoring 4-H thus far was issued in 1952. Information
on the development of this stamp has been documented and is included in the
bound historical volumes on 4-H.
Since that time, there have been several attempts to get a new 4-H
stamp, which would portray the modern 4-H program--urban and urban/
minority involvement, etc. Most of the proposals received came from local
4-H groups. For example:
a stamp to honor A. B. Graham, Ohio 4-H pioneer. This was
initiated by someone from Ohio who was a strong supporter of Graham's
contributions to 4-H.
4-H Clubs in California, Missouri, Kentucky,hoping for a new
4-H stamp by 1976. This was to be tied to the new 4-H poster program, thus
involving youth in the design.
National Association of Extension 4-H Agents proposal for a
4-H commemorative stamp.
Stamp honoring Gertrude L. Warren, 4-H pioneer, on her one
hundredth birthday. This idea was generated by the Town of Pendleton, New
York's Historical Society. National 4-H Council assisted in gaining support
for the proposal (Grant Shrum, Norm Mindrum, and others). Letters were sent
from the Secretary of Agriculture, and others.
Efforts were made by those involved in the planning of the
International Year of Youth to include 4-H in a stamp being proposed for
this event. 4-H was not successful. Four other organizations were included
in a block of stamps Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire and
A committee of Extension Service 4-H staff: Eleanor L.
Wilson, Elsie Carper, Sue Fisher, and others met at the National 4-H Center
to consider a new proposal for a 4-H stamp. At the time, effort was being
made to honor the anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act passage with a stamp.
It was decided to hold off on a 4-H stamp for a later time -
middle to late 1990's.
Two groups initiated efforts to propose a new 4-H stamp be
issued in 2002 to commemorate the centennial of the 4-H movement. Francis
H. Ross of Collins Center, New York, representing the Rural Letter Carriers
Association, was one group. The other was the National Association of
Extension 4-H Agents. This effort was spearheaded by a group chaired by
Mary Mong of Flint, Michigan.
Although there were efforts to re-issue the original 4-H stamp in 2002
for the 100th anniversary, this was not accomplished. There was a
limited edition 4-H cover produced and issued in January 2002 from
Springfield, Ohio bearing the original 1952 stamp plus a 34 cent stamp to bring
the postage up-to-date.
The following letter announcing the availability of the 2002 special
commemorative cover was sent out to State 4-H Leaders and State Foundation
Directors in May, 2001 from Jim Rutledge, 4-H Centennial Chair: