When any American thinks of cows, they inevitably picture the classic black and white Holstein. The finest milk cow in existence, the Holstein is such an American icon that it can be seen on everything from Gateway computers to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The prominence of this great animal is due to a Sanford High graduate.
A fifth-generation Sanford resident, Harold Joseph Shaw graduated from Sanford High in 1910. For a farmer with a steady job to graduate from high school at that time was remarkable enough, but Harold Shaw knew education would be a key to success at his family farm, so he went to the University of Maine, graduating in 1914. He formally took over the small family farm in 1920. At that time, there were at least a half-dozen different types of milk cows. Harold Shaw, through education and hard work, believed that the Holstein-Friesian breed could be the best. Using scientific research and just plain hard work, he applied revolutionary breeding techniques. While a champion Holstein could produce as much as three or four thousand pounds of milk per year, Harold Shaw routinely got 12,000 out of his. He could have patented his techniques, keeping them a trade secret and reaping the profits, but instead he shared his research with farmers around the country. In the process, he popularized the Holstein breed and helped make it the overwhelmingly dominant dairy breed in the nation.
Among his many honors, Harold Shaw received 21 consecutive Progressive Breeder Awards, and was elected President of the National Holstein Association in 1964. He always sought ways to help others, and served on the University Of Maine Board Of Trustees for many years. Mr. Shaw was awarded the University of Maine's Pine Tree Emblem Alumni Service Award in 1955. Over a 50-year career, Harold Shaw made some of the greatest contributions in the history of dairy farming. He was inducted into the National Dairy Shrine in 1959. He was inducted into the SHS Hall of Fame on June 9, 2006.