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.
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.
The Cowgill Papers consist of three series.
Related Materials :
The Extension Service Records (RG 111 Subgroup 4) contain 4-H related materials. Several photograph collections also contain related materials: Harriet's Collection #155; Extension Service Photograph Collection (P 62); and the 4-H Photograph Collection (P 146). Related manuscript collections (MSS) include the Esther Taskerud Papers and OSU Collegiate 4-H Club Records. Several Memorabilia 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.