Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Shambaugh, Jessie Field, 1881-1971

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1881-1971

Jessie Field was born in Shenandoah, Iowa, on June 26, 1881. Reminiscences about her childhood are included in The Memory Book (1918), a manuscript originally written in 1915 by the Field children as a Christmas gift for their parents and later bound in book form.

In 1906, after holding several positions as teacher and school principal, Jessie Field became school superintendent for Page County, Iowa. She left this position in 1912 to become the National Young Women's Christian Association's Secretary for Small Town and Country Work. She married Ira Shambaugh in 1917 and raised two children, William H. and Phyllis Ruth.

During her tenure as Page County School Superintendent, Field initiated many innovations in agricultural education including teachers' institutes and roundtables for updating and sharing materials and methods. She also organized Boys Corn Clubs and Girls Home clubs to teach rural youth modern farming and homemaking techniques. In1910, she also helped to develop summer farm camps to extend the work of theclubs. The modern 4-H organization originated from these early clubs and camps.

In 1909, Field designed a three-leaf clover pin, distributed in 1910 and after, to encourage participation in the boys and girls clubs. She added a fourth leaf to the design in 1911. The clover pins designed by Field were later copyrighted nationally. Because of her active role in the development of activities for rural youth and her development of the clover pin, many people name Jessie Field Shambaugh as the "Mother of 4-H."

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Jessie Field Shambaugh papers

 Collection
Identifier: IWA0133
Abstract Shenandoah, Iowa teacher who became school superintendent for Page County, Iowa. She played a central role in the development of activities for rural youth and is referred to as the 'Mother of 4-H.'