Monday, July 1, 2013


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The “Stitching History”Star Spangled Banner Project

WHEN: July 4, 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
WHERE: Ft. McHenry

Beginning July 4, 2013, The Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) will recreate he 30 x 42 foot Star-Spangled Banner flag that inspired the writing of our national anthem. The flag is an authentic reproduction of the original and will take more than 100 volunteer stitchers six weeks to complete. The July 4 start of the project will be heralded with great fanfare at Fort McHenry National Monument and Shrine in Baltimore, MD, including the “first stitch” sewn by a prominent Maryland citizen. Thousands of people are expected to attend this event.

Beginning at 11:40 AM July 4, the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps will lead a procession around the Fort carrying the flag materials to the dais and flag pole. The Star Spangled Banner materials will be unfurled, along with two other replica United States flags. The 'first stitch' will be added, with the event culminating with canon fire and great celebration.

After the first stitch, the general public is invited to witness The Maryland Historical Society's team of expert volunteer stitchers as they get underway recreating the flag.

The complete Public Event schedule at Fort McHenry on July 4 is as follows:

  • 9:30 AM: Flag Change in Star Fort
  • 11 AM: Poetry reading and public Recitation of the Declaration of Independence
  • 11 AM: Fife and Drum Corps march through Federal Hill, Baltimore
  • 11:40 AM: Parade from Visitor Center with fifes and drums
  • Noon: “First Stitch” Ceremony of the Stitching History: Recreating the Star Spangled Banner
  • 2 PM: Canon Firing
  • 3 PM: Public Recitation of the Declaration of Independence
  • 4:30 PM: Flag Change

Throughout the day, there will be children's activities, men and women dressed in 1812 regalia interacting with the crowds, festive red, white and blue bunting decorating the Fort, and singing at the Historic Tavern Tent.

Public Sewing Days: Add Your Stitch and Be a Part of History!

On Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 11 from noon until 3 PM, 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 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.

Why Begin at Fort McHenry?
In 1813, Major George Armistead, Commander of Fort McHenry, commissioned Mary Pickersgill to create the original Star Spangled Banner. It flew over the Fort and remained intact during the Battle of Baltimore, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner poem. In commemoration of these historic events, The Maryland Historical Society wishes to launch the Star Spangled Banner Project at Fort McHenry on Independence Day.

The finished flag will be flown at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine during Defender's Day in September, 2013. 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.

In 2014, it will be transported to the Smithsonian's American History Museum, where the original Star-Spangled Banner is on display. In addition, the original Star-Spangled Banner Manuscript, penned in Francis Scott Key's hand, will temporarily travel from the Maryland Historical Society to be united with the original Star-Spangled Banner for the first time.

The Story Behind The “Stitching History” Project:
The idea to recreate the Star Spangled Banner originated with The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. Inspired by this idea, The Maryland Historical Society has worked hard to make it come to life. The project entails recreating the Star Spangled banner using authentic materials and the same stitching techniques that Mary Pickersgill used 200 years ago. The Maryland Historical Society will finish the flag in the same timeframe - just 6 weeks - that Pickersgill did.

"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. After the July 4 kickoff, from July 5-August 22, the group will gather in MdHS' France Hall and, by working up to eight hours a day, they 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.

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.

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.

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