Repair Work on Star-Spangled Banner

ID: 27897 or MAH-27897

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1914

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 31A, Folder: 25

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  • 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.


  • Fowler, Amelia
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building West Wing
  • Star-Spangled Banner (Flag)


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.

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,



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Invertebrate Zoology
  • Women
  • United States Flag
  • Preservation
  • Chapel
  • Fans (Machinery)
  • Ecology
  • Flags
  • Squids
  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Giant squids
  • Commons
  • Exhibitions
  • Conservation


  • Photographic print
  • Group, candid

ID Number

27897 or MAH-27897

Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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