Star Spangled Banner Project

Dibby Gundry
Stitcher Dibby Gundry's beautiful handiwork

The Maryland Historical Society is recreating the 30 x 42 foot Star Spangled Banner flag! We will be sewing the flag during the same six-week time period that Mary Pickersgill did 200 years ago.

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. We aim to recreate the flag during the same time period 200 years later.

Our flag will then be flown at Fort McHenry during the Defenders Day celebration!

MdHS has recruited experienced stitchers to construct the majority of the flag, however, we want to share the experience with our friends in the general public.  To do this we will have two public sewing days, where anyone can come in and put a stitch or two in the flag!  These two days will be Saturday, August 3 and Sunday August 11 from noon till 3 each day. 

Our Next Steps

Update #1: Thanks For Making Our Kickstarter Campaign a Success!

July was a pioneering month for our 169-year-old institution. We tried some crowd sourcing with Kickstarter, and our new foray into the computer world was a great success!

Over 160 of you felt as strongly as our quilters who diligently stitched all month. You pledged a total of $10,600, and your 30' x'42' Star-Spangled Banner is quickly taking shape in our auditorium. The new flag will make history this year and next - and you made it possible!

Kristin and Stitchers
Project Director Kristin Schenning and stitchers say "Thanks!!"

YOU have inspired all of us, and 200 volunteer quilters, along with hundreds of volunteer stitchers, thank you for this achievement.

Update #2 Our Biggest Public Event of the Year Starts In August

Lead Stitcher Katie Bopp shows Bridgette Van Valkenburgh how to add her stitch.

After weeks of diligent, hard work from our expert stitchers, the flag is in great shape and ready for your stitch.

On Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 11 from noon until 4 pm we are hosting our Public Sewing Days.

As you know, our Star-Spangled Banner project is a work of public art in every sense of the word.

Our generous Kickstarter friends have funded the purchase of the red, white, and blue reproduction fabric commissioned by Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, PA.

And our expert volunteers have already devoted hundreds of hours getting the flag into flyable shape. Now it's up to you, our readers, to be part of history and add your stitch during our Public Days.

We have put together a few details to make your experience on August 3 and August 11 as seamless as possible (pun intended).

Arrival: Come to the Maryland Historical Society anytime between noon and 4 pm. When you get here, simply check in at our registration desk right by the front doors. There you will receive a timed-ticket, which will be arranged by 15-minute increments. We are expecting quite a crowd, but we don't anticipate you will have to wait long. We will do our best to keep groups and families together.

Even if you haven't registered to add your stitch (and registration is now closed), you can still come down and enjoy the festivities. As time permits, we will try to accommodate as many extra 'stitchers' as we can.

While you are here, we will have many other fun 1812 activities! There will be live music from our 1812 band, living history actors in period costume, exhibit tables and lectures from our friends and partners, craft vendors including silhouette artist Lauren Muney, an expanded Museum Shop, and delicious food vendors outside of the Museum.

Maryland Historical Society
Museum admission will be FREE on August 3 and August 11.

Museum admission will be FREE all day, so you can check out our 1812 exhibit, our Civil War exhibit and our brand-new "Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy" exhibit that just opened in June.

Just by participating in our Public Sewing Days, you will also receive a special Stitching History stamp in the 1812 Bicentennial Passport, a free passport from the Baltimore National Heritage Area that includes over a dozen Baltimore-area historical sites.

Free parking will be available in the lot adjoining The Maryland Historical Society. There are additional paid lots at 505 Park Avenue (by the Aegon Building), 600 Cathedral Street (across from The Walters Art Museum) and 401 N Charles Street (at Charles and Franklin Streets)

We are also conveniently located on the free Circulator Bus Purple Route - take the Washington Monument Stop, and we are also located just feet from the Light Rail - Centre Street Station.

This is the ultimate participatory event, and an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are proud to share this special day with you, and excited to have you take part of our historic project!

A Sneak Peek at Our Upcoming
Defenders Day Celebration

Volunteers Learning 19th Century Stitching Techniques
Courtesy U.S. Army Old Guard

Even if you can't participate in our Public Sewing Days, don't fret. We are planning a year's worth of fabulous Star-Spangled events, beginning in September.

Defenders Day is Baltimore's oldest holiday. It honors the successful defense of the city from British attack and the writing of the National Anthem in 1814.

This year we will celebrate Defender's Day on the weekend of September 13-September 15. We are partnering with Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine, the United States Mint, and the U.S. Army to put together a truly unforgettable weekend.

On Friday, September 13, we will have a special Star-Spangled Ceremony here at The Maryland Historical Society and will host a procession taking the recreated Star-Spangled Banner flag to Fort McHenry.

While we are keeping mum on the details (for now), we can say that the U.S. Army Old Guard will literally "guard" the banner on its journey to Fort McHenry!

That evening, you are invited to participate in unfurling the Star-Spangled Banner flag at Fort McHenry. The Federal Hill cannon will be fired, just like it did back in 1814, when it sounded the alarm of the arrival of the British fleet.

Eighty Living Historians will place a wreath at the monuments to General Sam Smith and Major George Armistead.

Fort McHenry Quarter

On Saturday, September 14, beginning at 8am at Fort McHenry: New Fort McHenry quarters will be available (while supplies last)!

That's right. The newest quarter in the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for 2013 features Fort McHenry and the Star-Spangled Banner!

You can exchange cash for new Fort McHenry quarters in $10 increments (while supplies last), courtesy M&T Bank. There is a $10, one roll minimum and $100, 10 roll maximum.

There will also be large living history encampment featuring military drills, cooking demonstrations, musket firing, dress parade, cannon firing and a children's program featuring authors and local historians. This is the perfect family event.

Beginning at 6pm, the recreated Star-Spangled Banner flag will be transported on a horse-drawn caisson consisting of seven beautiful horses.

This is the same horse-drawn caisson used at Arlington National Cemetery, and it's the first time it has ever left the Cemetery grounds.

The U.S. Army Drill Team will showcase a precision drill followed by a cannon-firing "battle" demonstrating the tactics used to defend Baltimore back in 1814. There will also be a patriotic concert by the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus performing the "1812 Overture".

And, as the sun sets, a symbolic ship-to-shore "bombardment" will commence, with pyrotechnic "bombs bursting in air" over the Fort and cannon thunder replies. The flag will be ceremoniously raised over the fort, to the singing of the National Anthem.

A 30-minute large fireworks display will provide the capstone to the evening.

It will be truly spectacular.

So mark your calendars now for our Defenders Day celebration!

See you then, and thanks for your support!


Burton Kummerow
President, 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." The Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street and open to the public Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday (museum only) 12 pm-5pm.