Special Collections Department
Agnes P. Medill
Boys' and Girls' Liberty Clubs
1918 – 1922
Manuscript Collection Number: 417
Accessioned: Gift of the children of Mrs. Joseph McVey, November 1975
Extent: 1 volume (.1 linear ft.)
Content: Scrapbooks: Photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, songs, correspondence
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 2001, by Karen E. Ryder
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Agnes P. Medill was born in Newark, Delaware, on September 8, 1887, and died on August 8, 1985 at the Episcopal Home in Hockessin, Delaware. She had five older brothers and sisters, one of whom was probably George Lodge Medill. She may also have been related to William Medill, a native of Newark who later served in the U.S. Congress and as governor of Ohio in the 1850s. In the early 1900s, Agnes Medill taught school at the old Newark Elementary School. During and after World War I, she worked for the Delaware College Extension Department to organize patriotic boys’ and girls’ clubs throughout Delaware. She became Assistant State Club Leader of the Boys’ and Girls’ Liberty Clubs of Delaware. Sometime after 1922, she married Joseph M. McVey. They lived on S. College Street and raised three children. Agnes Medill belonged to the First Presbyterian Church, the Newark New Century Club, and the Newark Senior Citizens Center. McVey Elementary School is named after her husband, a former president of the Board of Education of the Christina School District.
Obituary. Wilmington News Journal Morning News, August 10, 1985.
Note: Historical and biographical information obtained from the collection.
This one-volume scrapbook contains photographs, news clippings, and information that Agnes P. Medill kept during 1918-1922, when she was employed by the Delaware College Extension Service to organize Boys’ and Girls’ Liberty Clubs in the Delaware public schools. During the 1918 school year, Agnes Medill organized at least fifteen clubs throughout Delaware schools, including Newport, Bridgeville, Stanton, Black Swamp, Redden, Georgetown, Greenwood, Townsend, Welsh Tract, Harrington, Newark, and Wilmington. Working with agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agnes made presentations in schools to explain the importance of food conservation and preservation for the war effort. She helped students to start local canning, baking, sewing, millinery, corn, calf, gardening, pig, and poultry clubs. With the cooperation and encouragement of Delaware public schools, she directed students in creating garden plots in the schoolyards. Agnes met with a total of over 400 children over a two-week cycle, directing gardening work, teaching domestic science activities, and helping Delaware College to run contests for prizewinning club work.
These clubs were part of a nationwide movement that included Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Camp Fire Girls. Agnes Medill attended National Conferences of Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs in 1918 and 1919, and many of the school children she worked with went with her to Camp Vail in Springfield, Massachusetts, for a national or regional gathering. News clippings throughout the scrapbook reveal interest in reform, domestic science, efficiency, and modernization. Delaware Women’s College trained home economists, who taught in high schools and worked as agricultural extension agents. Boys’ and Girls’ Liberty Clubs may have been forerunners of 4-H Clubs.
The scrapbook includes clippings from the Delaware School Journal and the University of Delaware Extension Service News. Photographs depict the following: club leaders at Washington, D.C., monuments, and Mt. Vernon; old views of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal showing a waterwheel and locks in Chesapeake City, Maryland; group photographs of each school club with captions; a sign at Camp Vail in Springfield, Massachusetts that reads “Boys and Girls Club Work” and has a clover symbol similar to the 4-H logo; school gardens with their student gardeners at many of the Wilmington schools and towns throughout Delaware; prize pigs and their owners; champions of a millinery contest; costumes and uniforms; Agnes’s automobile, “Lizzie.” There are samples of typewritten club forms for membership and achievement. A handwritten list of important club names and addresses is at the back of the book. There are many examples of club song lyrics, with instructions to sing these new words to patriotic or familiar Civil War songs.
The volume, in fragile condition with a broken binding, contains a stationers’ ticket from “Julian B. Robinson, Stationer & Printer, Blank Books, 718 Market Street, Wilmington, Del.”