Grace Rogers Cooper & 13-Star US Flags

In 1972 the Smithsonian Institution published this book by former NAVA president Grace Rogers Cooper, Thirteen-Star Flags: Keys to Identification. It contains a wealth of information on the early history of US flags and surviving examples, and how to detect impostors. And the public domain full text is available online! You can read it on […]

Happy National Flag Week

Every student of the US flag knows that it was officially adopted on 14 June 1777 when the Second Continental Congress passed what is now known as the First Flag Act: Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in […]

More US Flag Improvements

We announced a provocative design exercise in Vexilloid Tabloid #57, namely: Ignoring the political near-impossibility of change…simply from a DESIGN perspective, how could the US flag be improved? We reported earlier on two proposals emailed to us, but there have been some other ideas presented since then, on our Facebook page, in the Flags and Vexillology discussion group, and at our meeting […]


The US flag has a sad history of being used to compel patriotism.  One low point occurred in 1940 when the Supreme Court, in the throes of World War II, ruled in Minersville School District v. Gobitis that religious dissenters could be forced to salute the flag in the name of national unity (or, for example, be expelled […]

Zaricor Flag Collection

The Zaricor Flag Collection (ZFC) is the result of decades of flag collecting by wealthy California businessman Ben Zaricor. Its curator, the vexillologist and former flag merchant Jim Ferrigan, writes: The [ZFC], as the noted flag historian, the late Howard Madaus stated, is the largest most important representation of U.S. and American flags in the world. […]

Happy Birthday, 25 of America’s 28 Flags

According to the Flag Act of 1818, when new states are added to the union, corresponding stars are added to the flag on the following Fourth of July.  So July 4th is not just the birthday of the US, but also of the 25 flags it has used since 1818.  Here are some notable examples:

The US Flag in the 21st Century

31 October 2000 American hip hop duo Outkast release their fouth studio album, Stankonia.  The iconic album cover consists of Big Boi and André 3000 posing in front of a huge, black-and-white US flag with inverted stars: the funkified flag of Stankonia (which actually was manufactured and hung on the wall in their Atlanta studios).  (For more, […]

The US Flag in the 20th Century (2nd half)

19 September 1952 The Adventures of Superman begins airing on American television, following an undocumented alien immigrant as he fights “the never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way”.  The famous opening sequence ends with George Reeves standing before a US flag, somehow briskly flying in outer space.  In less than 20 years, fiction will become […]

The US Flag in the 20th Century (1st half)

4 March 1907 In Halter v. Nebraska the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of two businessmen for “desecrating” the flag by using its imagery on the label of their “Stars and Stripes” brand beer. 4 July 1912 The US adopts the 48-star flag, recognizing the admission of New Mexico and Arizona earlier that year.  This marks a turning point in US flag […]

The US Flag in the 19th Century

14 September 1814 Aboard the HMS Tonnant, at “dawn’s early light” attorney Francis Scott Key sees a large US flag still flying over Fort McHenry despite its overnight bombardment during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.  He publishes his poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser seven days later.  Both […]