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National 4-H Stamp
 4-H Postage Stamp

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 panel..."

The 4-H stamp was designed by C. R. Chickering. M. D. Fenton was the engraver.

A stamp publication reports an interesting story on the germination of an idea to create the stamp:

Springfield, O. To Be Honored By 4-H 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 painstaking research.

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.

4-H Stamp
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 Clark County.

"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 "three H's."

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 the nation.

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 stamp suggestion.

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:

Issuing a Commemorative Postage Stamp; Honoring A. B. Graham
(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 learning.

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 Prayer."

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 recalled.

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 declared.

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 stamp:

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:

1970 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.
1974 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.
1981 National Association of Extension 4-H Agents proposal for a 4-H commemorative stamp.
1983 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.
1985 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 YMCA Youth.
1987 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.
1995 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.
2002 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:






Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.


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