4-H in the Archives

Before we dive in, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Allison, and I’ve been the Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage Archives Intern here at the Millet and District Museum, Archives & Visitor Information Centre since September 2020. 

Due to the nature of Archives generally being closed spaces that preserve and provide access to one-of-a-kind records, the Archives are not a well-trafficked area of the Millet Museum. If any of you have visited the Museum, the Archives room is located towards the back, near the Pioneer Women display panels. There are many interesting items in here, and if you’re interested in any of them, feel free to check out our Archives page, which includes listings of our collections and processes for accessing them.

In late 2020, the Museum was fortunate enough to receive a material donation from the Kemp family. Typically, when you donate materials, if they are papers, photographs, or electronic items, they are stored in the Archives. When the Kemp donation arrived, Tracey, the Executive Director/Curator of the Museum suggested that it be used in a basic display in the Museum space, which is generally accessible to visitors. I thought this would be a fun opportunity to share a bit about Archival processes, and learn more about Museum display design. 

Accessioning & Appraising

The Kemp family donation arrived in a box, and the materials had clearly been kept in a clean, dry, warm space. The staff member who accepted the items worked with the Kemps to create a Certificate of Gift agreement, as well as an Inventory of the materials. Certificates of Gift are important because they serve as documentation of the transfer of ownership, and the Inventory helps future processors have an idea about what the materials are, and where they have been. This particular donation included three binders created by Marie Kemp during her time on the Pipestone 4-H Dairy and Garden clubs, two of which were bound in wood. Certificates of Gift and Inventory = Accessioning.

Per protocol, the materials sat outside of the Archives room for a few days, and I checked them over to ensure they were free of mold or other contaminants that might harm the items in the Archives room. 

The next step is Appraisal. Appraisal means the archivist, or in this case, Intern in collaboration with the Executive Director, determines what to keep and what not to keep. The Kemp donation was simple: we kept everything. 

Arranging & Describing

After Appraisal comes Arrangement and Description. Arrangement was relatively simple: storing the material in clearly marked binders meant the original order of the materials was clear, and knowing that many of the materials would be showcased in an exhibit meant the materials held in the wooden binders was kept there, for the time being. Eventually, the pages will be separated from the wood, because wood is a material that degrades paper records over time.

The contents of the binders were summarized, and they were recorded as individual items within the new A 84 Kemp Family fonds. Fonds means that all of the items in that particular collection originate from the same entity. Creating this fonds gives us a number for the items, so if one goes missing, we know to look for A84.01.003 (meaning, Kemp Family, Series 1, Item 3). In the future, everything donated to us by the Kemp family will go to the Kemp family fonds. Had the items been donated by the 4-H clubs themselves, they would have gone to their respective 4-H club fonds. The Kemp family fonds will be linked electronically to the 4-H fonds, so that future researches know where to go to find 4-H materials. 


Contents of the “regular” binder were removed, and filed in acid-free, archival quality folders and boxes. 

I selectively digitized (scanned) a number of pages and photographs, and picked a few from this collection to be put on display. Here’s a good example of why not everything is available online. These binders would have taken a very long time to digitize in their entirety, and transcribing each page so it could be searchable would take even longer. Only having an Intern for an 8-month term means that if she is digitizing, she needs to be selective, and only digitize items that either are regularly accessed, that may be regularly accessed in the future, or that are falling apart.

photos: A84.02.001 & A84.02.002 Patience Dairy Calf Club, 1943


Access is one of the more complicated elements of the archival process, as many items are not digitized and must be viewed onsite, and many are restricted. Designing an exhibit allowed me to showcase some of the material from this collection, and to showcase some of our other 4-H collections, as well. 

I searched through our fonds and pulled items from the A21 Millet 4-H Garden Club and A76 Millet Light Horse Association. Some of these items I digitized, and some I put in the display case. 

The Exhibit

Speaking of the display case, it was time to get my copies of materials together to be dry-mounted. Each item copy: photographs, binders, collection of ribbons, etc. required a description, which was dry-mounted. The photos I selected were also dry-mounted, as well as a a brief history of 4-H in Alberta, which was researched by one of our Board Members and Volunteers, Bob Maynard. 

Dry-mounting is a two person job, and it took most of the day to print the items, tack them on glue paper, mount them with transfer paper, and cut them to size. Once that was all finished, my colleague and I set up the items in the case. It was a classic 4:50 on a Friday, trying to get the last photo in the case before a quick clean, kind of afternoon. 

Here, you can see the final product. As mentioned above, the contents of the display case are from three Archival fonds: the Millet Light Horse Association, the Millet 4-H Garden Club, and the Kemp Family fonds.

On the left, we have:

A collection of ribbons from the Millet Light Horse Association. These award Ribbons may have been for Public Speaking, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Horse Judging, and Ranch, Dressage, English, or Western competitions.

Underneath that, we have photos of the Pipestone 4-H Dairy Calf Club at 4-H Dairy Achievement Day, 1983-84; Patience 4-H Dairy Calf Club, 1943; and Marie Kemp's first year project for Pipestone 4-H Garden Club on the Kemp family farm, west of Millet, 1971.

On the bottom shelf, we have a stuffed horse (this was donated as a useable gift); Marie Kemp's 4-H Dairy Binder (includes information on club membership and activities, instructions for projects, materials and outcomes of projects, promotional pamphlets, newspaper articles featuring the Club, magazines, and photographs); a horse diagram from the Millet Light Horse Association; and a photo of members of the Pipestone 4-H Dairy Club at the Provincial 4-H Dairy Show, 1972.

On the right, we have Marie Kemp's Pipestone 4-H Garden Club binder, featuring one of her projects; a photo of Dan Cameron, Champion of the Pipestone Dairy Cow Club at the 4-H Achievement Day in 1979 with his two year old dairy cow; and below that a scrapbook from the Millet 4-H Garden Club, 1964-1970 (includes news clippings and memorabilia documenting the activities of the Millet 4-H Garden Club, Millet 4-H Clothing Club, and Hillside 4-H Garden Club).

A Brief History of 4-H

Early 4-H Clubs began in the late 1800s, when rural youth programs were established to encourage young people to learn about new agricultural technologies through hands-on experiences.

In 1902, A.B. Graham started the first known 4-H club—then called “The Tomato Club or “Corn Growing Club”— in Clark County, Ohio. By 1912, programs like Graham’s were called 4-H clubs.

4-H clubs first began in Alberta in 1917, and were originally called “clubs for boys and girls”. 4-H clubs in Alberta operate on the Values of: Integrity, Respect, Accountability, and Excellence.

The Millet Archives holds materials from Millet 4-H clubs, Hillside 4-H clubs, and Pipestone 4-H clubs, with items ranging in date from 1943-1984.

4-H Today

4-H Clubs continue to be an important part of Albertan communities, with many clubs near Millet, including the Pipestone 4-H Beef Club, the Wetaskiwin 4-H Riders, the Falun East 4-H Beef Club the Lakedell Light Horse 4-H Club.

A Final Note

I had a lot of fun working on this project, and am pleased that, although the Museum is closed, we can share the outcome with everyone virtually. When the Museum is open again, the 4-H display may still be there, or the case may be home to a new exhibit.