This poster promotes youth joining a sheep club which was the pre-cursor to 4-H work. What started on a small-scale with farm youth clubs expanded to the national and international 4-H youth movement.

From eighteenth century illustrated French volumes to samples of wool and animal hair, Special Collections houses a variety of materials on sheep breeding and wool production. Major research efforts of USDA scientists are reflected in several collections.

Photographs of animal anatomy, housing, equipment, and products such as wool appear in the USDA Bureau of Animal Industry Photograph Collection (MS 178). The photographs document the work of employees of the Animal Husbandry Division which was created in 1910. In the same year, USDA bought land in Beltsville, Maryland and established research facilities for sheep and other animals. The sheep breeding work there was designed to study farm sheep production under intensive conditions. Basic research on wool and methods of measuring wool quality was begun at Beltsville in 1919.

Geneticist and physiologist Clair Elman Terrill (1910-2001), known as “Mr. Sheep” because of his worldwide leadership in sheep production research, began working at the newly established regional sheep experiment station in DuBois, Idaho in 1936. There the laboratory staff’s efforts were to improve sheep for lamb and wool production under range conditions. Terrill’s collection includes documentation of this work as well as the research he conducted in the USDA’s Sheep and Fur Animal Research Branch from 1955 to 1972. Samples of wool, sheep skin, sheep hair, equipment, photographs, and sheep registry and breeding records also comprise a majority of this collection.

Photographs dating from 1921 of the U.S. Sheep Farm in Vienna, Virginia, where parasitological work took place, are located in the U.S. National Animal Parasite Collection Records (MS 223.)

The efforts of youth in raising and caring for sheep during the 1960s are represented in 4-H photographs housed in the Elsie Carper Collection on Extension Service, Home Economics, and 4-H (MS 56).



Houck, U. G. 1924. The Bureau of Animal Industry of the United States Department of Agriculture: Its Establishment, Achievements and Current Activities. Washington, DC: Author.

Powell, Judy. 1998. “New Organic Standards.” Farming - the Journal of Northeast Agriculture, July.

Wiser, Vivian D., Larry Mark, H. Graham Purchase, and Associates of the National Agricultural Library, eds. 1987. 100 Years of Animal Health 1884-1984. Beltsville, MD (10301 Baltimore Blvd., Beltsville, MD 20705): Associates of the National Agricultural Library, Inc.

June 2016 calendar page (20mb PDF). 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17.