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Helen Cowgill Papers, 1914-1956

Collection Overview

Title: Helen Cowgill Papers, 1914-1956

ID: MSS Cowgill

Primary Creator: Cowgill, Helen Julia

Extent: 0.1 cubic feet

Arrangement: The Cowgill Papers consist of three series.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Cowgill Papers consist of 4-H circulars written by Helen Cowgill, family history information, and a diary of her 4-H work during the 1910s with women and young girls throughout Oregon.

Scope and Content Notes

Series one consists of a hand-stitched fabric covered book of 4-H circulars, mostly written by Cowgill from 1946-1956. Series two consists of a family history including births, deaths, and marriages, copied from a family bible. Series three is a diary of Cowgill's daily travels and 4-H work covering 1914 to 1915 and 1918, with detailed descriptions of who and where she visited women and young girls throughout Oregon.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Helen Julia Cowgill was born 1 December 1881 in Springfield, Illinois. Cowgill came to Oregon in 1890 and graduated in 1913 from Oregon Agricultural College with a BS degree in Domestic Science and Art. After teaching Domestic Science and Art at Harney County (Oregon) High School at Burns for one year, she began her career at OAC in 1914 as Assistant State 4-H Club Leader with the Extension Service. In 1916, she earned a second BS degree in Home Economics from OAC. In charge of the girls' 4-H work, Cowgill wrote many of the 4-H Circulars used by girls in their 4-H Projects. She became known as the "Mother of Oregon 4-H." Cowgill took a year's leave of absence to complete her Masters Degree, which she received from the University of Washington in 1931. She was a member of Phi Kappa Chi and the Epsilon Sigma Phi, serving as treasurer of the latter organization in 1943. Cowgill retired from Oregon State College in 1947 and was awarded emeritus status. In 1954 Cowgill was selected as a "Woman of Achievement" by Theta Sigma Phi, and the 1957 4-H Summer School publication 4-H Absolutely was dedicated to her. Cowgill died in Corvallis on 15 May 1959. In 1965 a tree and bench on the university campus were dedicated to her memory.

Administrative Information

Related Materials: The Extension Service Records (RG 111) contain materials related to 4-H. Several photograph collections also containing related content include Harriet's Photograph Collection (P HC), Extension Service Photographs (P 062); and the 4-H Photograph Collection (P 146). Related manuscript collections include the Esther Taskerud Papers (MSS Taskerud) and the Oregon State University Collegiate 4-H Club Records (MSS 4HClub). Several OSU Memorabilia Collection (MSS MC) files also contain related materials: MC 4-H Summer School, 1925-1938; MC 4-H - Absolutely; MC 4-H Club Leaders Conference; and MC 4-H Benches and Tree.

Preferred Citation: Helen Cowgill Papers (MSS Cowgill), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.


Cowgill, Helen Julia
Oregon State College. Federal Cooperative Extension Service

People, Places, and Topics

4-H clubs--Oregon.
Cowgill, Helen Julia
Cowgill family.
Natural Resources
University History

Forms of Material


Creative Commons License
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