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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

She's A High Flying Flag

Happy Fourth of July!
After a hot and electricity deprived week some of you may not be in the celebrating mood. To help get you in the holiday spirit here are some historic images of the Star-Spangled Banner. Feel free to print them out and help decorate your barbeques and parties!

Star-Spangled Banner Outside the Castle
SIA, Negative Number: SIA2011-1081
Shortly after it came to the United States National Museum, the Star-Spangled Banner was hung on the exterior of the north side of the Smithsonian Institution Building or "Castle" where the East Range is located. The flag was made during the summer of 1813 as a simple garrison flag, but after the British attacked Baltimore in 1814, it gained recognition as the "Star Spangled Banner." The flag became a valued keepsake of Major George Armistead, the commander of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, and was retained by his descendants. Eventually, the family came to believe that the Star Spangled Banner belonged in a museum as an artifact of national heritage. Armistead’s grandson, Eben Appleton corresponded with Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott. In 1907, Appleton gave the flag on loan to the Smithsonian Institution and he converted the loan to a gift in 1912. The flag was restored by the Smithsonian Institution in 1914 and again in 1999.

Repair Work on Star-Spangled Banner
SIA, Negative Number: 27897 and MAH-27897
In 1914, Amelia Fowler, a teacher of embroidery who became involved in flag preservation in 1900, agreed to a government contract to do the work on the Star-Spangled Banner.  She and her team worked for eight weeks in the hot and humid summer between mid-May and mid-July 1914 in an un-air-conditioned room and sewed on a new linen backing using approximately 1,700,000 stitches. The team used a series of interlocking open buttonhole stitches to secure the tattered flag to a backing of unbleached linen and the West Wing of the Smithsonian Institution Building was closed to be used for renovation.

Guest at Nixon's Ball Admire the Star-Spangled Banner
SIA, Negative Number: SIA2009-0306 or 68-153-13A
The Star-Spangled Banner moved into the then National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History (NMAH) when it opened. As a resident of the museum, the flag has witnessed to many important events including President Richard M. Nixon’s Inaugural Ball, which was held on January 20, 1969. 

Star Spangled Banner, NMAH
SIA, Negative Number: MAH-P6427
Prior to the 2008 renovation of the Center Hall of the National Museum of American History the Foucault pendulum and the Star-Spangled Banner greeted visitors. Today the iconic object is in a new state-of-the-art exhibition case. The new display hope to protect the longevity of this beloved piece of American history. For more information about the Star-Spangled Banner and its new home check out the NMAH's website. Also, if this has still not gotten you in the spirit check out these other great images on the Collections Search Center.

Happy Fourth!

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