Stitching History: Recreating the Star Spangled Banner at The Maryland Historical Society

Public Invited to Participate In Flag Stitching as Part of Maryland's Celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812


BALTIMORE, May 22, 2013 -- Beginning July 4, 2013, The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) will be recreating the 30 x 42 foot Star-Spangled Banner flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem. Using authentic materials, MdHS will employ traditional stitching techniques that Mary Pickersgill used 200 years ago.  


Once completed, the flag will fly over Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and, along with the original Star-Spangled Manuscript, will travel to historic sites around the country.


Illustration by Gerry Embleton/em>

"We are so fortunate, during the Bicentennial celebrations, to make an idea like this come alive!" says Kristin Schenning, MdHS Director of Education. "It means so much for our state of Maryland, and its place in American history."


The Maryland Historical Society has recruited more than 100 experienced quilters from around the country to construct the majority of the flag. The group will gather in MdHS' France Hall and, by working up to eight hours a day, will assemble the flag in three sections, including: the long stripes, the short stripes, and the blue field. Descendants of Mary Pickersgill are scheduled to participate.


On Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 11 from noon until 3 p.m. the general public is invited to come and add a stitch to the flag. During these days, MdHS will host the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps, celebrity guest appearances, actors in period costume, exhibit tables from our friends and partners, and mobile food vendors outside of the Museum. To register for the public days, visit


"This is the ultimate participatory event," says President Burt Kummerow. "It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Visitors will be able to participate in the creation of an artifact that will become part of the nation's proud history."


Participants in the sewing days will also receive a stamp in the 1812 Bicentennial Passport, a free passport from the Baltimore National Heritage Area that includes over a dozen Baltimore-area historical sites.


About The Original Star Spangled Banner

Mary Pickersgill, a local flag maker, worked with her daughter Caroline, nieces Eliza and Margaret Young, and African American indentured servant Grace Wisher to complete the flag in six weeks in the summer of 1813.  Two hundred years later, it is the goal of MdHS to recreate the flag during the same time period. 


The original flag was made from English wool bunting, a loosely woven, light-weight material common in flag-making before the advent of nylon.  MdHS has commissioned the recreation of this fabric by Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, PA.


The finished flag will be flown at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine during Defender's Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore.  It will also be used for school programs and other public events in the Bicentennial year of the writing of the national anthem and the defense of the city of Baltimore.


Related Collaborations
MdHS is proudly partnering with The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, the Maryland 1812 Bicentennial Commission, Star Spangled 200 and the National Park Service Star-Spangled Banner Trail.


Saleable Items
While the 30'x42' flag is underway, a smaller, 4'x6' flag will also be made using the same authentic materials. This flag will be auctioned off in a raffle on Defender's Day, 2014.


In addition,a build-it-yourself American flag kit will be sold at the MdHS Gift Shop and on its website. This kit will contain 15 precut stripes and 15 iron-on stars that families and classrooms can assemble together. As a special bonus, purchasers of this kit can have their completed flags flown at Fort McHenry! For more details, visit  


Online Resources
For even more fascinating details about the flag making process, and the historical women who shaped our past, the Education Department has started a blog entitled Stitching History. You can access it by visiting this link:


The Maryland Historical Society Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. After June 9, general admission to the Maryland Historical Society is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students and children ages 3-18 and free for children under 3. For more information, visit, 


The Maryland Historical Society is deeply grateful to the many funders who have made this project possible, including the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, Star Spangled Banner 200 Inc., The Star-Spangled Banner Trail, and F.W. Haxel & Co.


About The Maryland Historical Society
Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine." Visit


For more information, contact Marketing Director Laura Rodini at 410-685-3750 Ext. 322 or