Repair Work on Star-Spangled Banner

image for Repair Work on Star-Spangled Banner
Historic Images of the Smithsonian
Published in "The Castle: An Illustrated History of the Smithsonian Building" by Cynthia R. Field, Richard E. Stamm, and Heather P. Ewing, p. 112. See Neg. #27462 for another view of the flag set up in the East Wing without the seamstresses at work.
Women are at work repairing the Star-Spangled Banner on a set of makeshift tables in the room in the Castle then known as the chapel (now the Commons) in the West Wing of the Smithsonian Institution Building. The closing of the West Wing during renovation allowed the hall to be used for this purpose. To preserve the flag, a team of seamstresses under the direction of Amelia Bold Fowler used a series of interlocking open buttonhole stitches to secure the tattered flag to a backing of unbleached linen. Electric fans can be seen. All the exhibits have been removed except display cases along the wall and the giant squid hanging from the ceiling.
Amelia Fowler was a teacher of embroidery who became involved in flag preservation in 1900. From work for preservation of Civil War flags for the State of Massachusetts, to work in 1912, she and 40 needle-women she had trained on 172 historical flags at the U.S. Naval Academy, Fowler developed a method of preservation she patented in 1913. Fowler agreed to a government contract to do the work on the Star-Spangled Banner. She and her team worked for eight weeks in the hot and humid summer between mid-May and mid-July 1914 in a un-air-conditioned room and sewed on a new linen backing using approximately 1,700,000 stitches.
Contained within
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 31A, Folder: 25
Contact information
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,
Giant squids
Invertebrate Zoology
United States Flag
Electric apparatus and appliances
Fans (Machinery)
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Restrictions & Rights
No restrictions
Fowler, Amelia
Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
Smithsonian Institution Building West Wing
Star-Spangled Banner (Flag)
Physical description
Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print
Photographic print
Group, candid
Standard number
27897 or MAH-27897