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School Gardening in the early 1900s through today: US School Garden Army Manuals

Primary source materials and information about gardening within K-12 schools in the early 20th century through today. Now a part of the AgNIC network!

History

"A garden for every child, every child in a garden."

-----The motto of the United States School Garden Army

At the advent of World War I, the Bureau of Education within the Department of the Interior, with funding from the War Department, created the United States School Garden Army (USSGA) to boost the concept as well as morale. This was the one of the first attempts by the BOE to establish a curriculum nationally.  It was also an attempt to help in the war effort by having the schools help grow food. To support this program a series of documents were written and distributed.  Among these were at least 15 USSGA Manuals and Guides, and 17 School Home-Garden Circulars. The target audience was urban and suburban boys and girls, ages 9 through 15, and their teachers. The subjects covered growing vegetables from seed, growing flowers, building hotbeds and coldframes, organic matter and soil health, regional guides and others. As well as primary sources of gardening information from 1919, these guides are still applicable to the teachers, parents and young gardeners of today.

For a history of the United States School Garden Army, please consult the following materials:

School Gardens with Constance Carter
Constance Carter, Head of the Science Reference Section, Library of Congress, describes the history of the school garden in America and offers reasons why school gardens are making a comeback.  [The webcast is excellent.]

United States School Garden Army / J.H. Francis. Bulletin 1919, no. 26.
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, 1919. 6 pages
Link to the MSU Library catalog record.

Soldiers of the Soil: A Historical Review of the United States School Garden Army / Rose Hayden-Smith
4-H Center for Youth Development Monograph, Winter 2006. 20 pages

Soldiers of the soil: The work of the United States School Garden Army during World War I / Rose Hayden-Smith. 2007. Applied Environmental Education and Communication 6.1: 19-29. [not in the Public Domain]

"Increasing production: The United States School Garden Army." In Wartime relations of the Federal Government and the public schools : 1917-1918 / Lewis Paul Todd. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. 1945. p.151-158.

The war garden victorious / Charles Lathrop Pack
Chapter VIII: The Army Of School Gardeners: How the Children of America were Mobilized by the Government
Philadelphia, J.P. Lippincott Company, 1919. 179 pages

School Life: The Official organ [journal] of the United States Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior. 1918-1964, ISSN 1356-9463
This magazine has many articles pertaining to the US School Garden Army and school gardens in general.
Volumes 1-3, Volumes 4-6, and Volumes 7-9 are available full text online through Google Books.  Later volumes are present but not fully accessible.

The garden army in 1919. United States School Garden Army. Department of Interior. Bureau of Education, 1919.

USSGA Documents

United States School Garden Army
This is the list of the USSGA documents that located in digital format.  The unnumbered manuals and publications are listed first, the leaflets second.  As you can see, I have located leaflets no. 1 and no. 93, which leads me to believe that there are 91 leaflets in between that have not been located nor digitized.  I'm working on locating them, but they're proving to be very elusive. If you can provide any assistance in locating them, please contact me. Note that in the magazine School Life, vol. 1, no. 5. page 7-8, an article, "U.S.S. G Leaflets" names them by region [pages 94-95 in the pdf]. Oddly, leaflet nos. 1 and 93 I have by titles as leaflets are not in this list.

The title of each links to the MSU School Gardens Digital Collection page for it. To open the digitized pdf of the item, click on the word "open" beneath the pdf icon in the upper left sid of the page.  

To view the catalog records click here to see a Series title search of the MSU Library Catalog.

 --- Manuals -

Fall Manual of the United States School Garden Army
32 pages

Spring Manual of the United States School Garden Army
32 pages

Home gardening for city children of the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades / Ethel Gowans
72 pages

Courses in school-supervised gardening for the northeastern states
22 pages

A manual of school-supervised gardening for the northeastern states - Part 1: Vegetables
74 pages

A manual of school-supervised gardening for the northeastern states - Part 2: Flowers
27 pages

Forty lessons in gardening for the northeastern states
31 pages

Lessons in gardening for the central states region, Garden Manual 1
18 pages

Lessons in gardening for the central states region, Garden Manual 2
18 pages

Lessons in school-supervised gardening for the southeastern states: Vegetables
56 pages

Garden manual for the southwestern region
47 pages

Lessons in gardening for the southwestern region
25 pages

A manual of school-supervised gardening for the western states / C.A. Stebbins
46 pages

An outline of a course of study in gardening, designed to prepare for supervision of school-directed home gardens under the plan of the United States School Garden Army
[Link leads to pdf - document at the NAL Digital Repository]  
12 pages

------- Leaflets --------

Home gardening for town children / P.P. Claxton
United State School Garden Army Leaflet 1, November 1, 1919
4 pages

School supervised gardening in New Hampshire
United State School Garden Army Leaflet 93 - Northeastern States, 1919
3 pages

USSGA Images

The USSGA had posters and images promoting the program.  Here are links to some of them.

Title: Follow the Pied Piper. Join the United States School Garden Army.
Description: Poster shows Uncle Sam playing a fife, leading a group of children carrying gardening tools and a seed bag.

Title: Helping Hoover in our U.S. school garden.
Description: World War I public service poster showing two bare-foot children with a wheelbarrow full of vegetables.

Title: Join the United States school garden army - Enlist now / Edward Penfield.
Description: Poster showing a girl plowing.


For similar posters and/or photographs of this era, click on a subject heading below to see what's in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC).

Gardening--1910-1920. (4)
National War Garden Commission--1910-1920. (12)
Vegetables--1910-1920
. (3)
Victory gardens--1910-1920. (4)

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