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Star-Spangled Banner

July 4, 2020

Jennifer  M. Woodson is a textile expert who acts a consultant in the fashion industry.

Independence Day is the national holiday where America commemorates the Declaration of Independence-- the document which declared independence from Britain, signed on this day in 1776. The lyrics of the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner", were written by Francis Scott Key as he observed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British Ships of the Royal Navy but later saw that America had won the war and raised what came to be known as the Star Spangled Banner.

The flag was made in Baltimore, Maryland by flag maker, Mary Pickersgill. As the original dimensions of the flag was 30 feet by 42 feet its no surprise that Pickersgill needed assistance, which came from her daughter, two nieces, and an indentured African-American girl.

What was the flag made of? The red and white stripes, as well as the blue union, were made from English wool bunting, which is simply a plain weave fabric made from a strong, smooth wool yarn. The stars, each 2 feet in diameter, were made from cotton.

The flag was first loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in 1907 and in 1912 was converted to a permanent gift. It is now on exhibit at the National Museum of American History. The current size of the flag is 30 feet by 34 feet not due to degradation, but rather to fulfill requests for snippings of the treasured flag before it was gifted to the Smithsonian.