Flag Day: Resources from The Library of Congress



Ask your students: this a primary source?  Ask older students: in what sense could this be considered a primary source?  Perhaps have them use the Primary Source Analysis Tool to start the discussion.


The Birth of Old Glory [detail],
Percy Moran, artist, copyright 1917.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved a design for a national flag: Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.  

[June 14, 1777, in Journals of the Continental Congress. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875]

Since 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14, Americans have commemorated the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by celebrating June 14 as Flag Day. Prior to 1916, many localities and a few states had been celebrating the day for years. Congressional legislation designating that date as the national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949; the legislation also called upon the president to issue a flag day proclamation every year.

According to legend, in 1776, George Washington commissioned Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars debate this legend, but agree that Mrs. Ross most likely knew Washington and sewed flags. To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag's forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959. Other related treasures include Francis Scott Key's "Star-Spangled Banner" and John Philip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

This entry is from Today in History, a great class starter with links like the ones above for further student research.  Of course, there are not many days left in this academic year . . .