Star-Spangled Banner

ID: 19703A or MAH-19703A

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Object

Date: 1907

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 11-006

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  • This image shows the Star-Spangled Banner as it was originally hung on the exterior of the Smithsonian Institution Building shortly after it was acquired for the National Museum. The flag was made during the summer of 1813 as a simple garrison flag, but after the British attacked Baltimore in 1814, it gained recognition as the "Star Spangled Banner". The flag became a valued keepsake of Major George Armistead, the commander of Baltimore's Fort McHenry, and was retained by his descendants. Eventually the family came to believe that the Star Spangled Banner belonged in a museum as an artifact of national heritage. Armistead's grandson, Eben Appleton, made inquires and corresponded with Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott. In 1907 Appleton loaned the flag to the Smithsonian Institution and later in 1912 he converted the loan to a gift. The flag was restored by the Smithsonian Institution in 1914. This negative has been altered, please see the note field.
  • Packed in the wooden crate that Commodore George Preble had made for it in 1876, the flag was shipped from New York by Adams Express on July 5, 1907, and arrived at the Smithsonian the next day. Secretary Walcott was out of town, but Assistant Secretary Richard Rathbun had it hung on the exterior wall of the Castle and photographed. The flag was then placed in a case in the Arts and Industries Building's Hall of History, next to cases holding military artifacts that had belonged to George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.


  • Appleton, Eben
  • Armistead, George 1780-1818
  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • Rathbun, Richard 1852-1918
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Star-Spangled Banner (Flag)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • This is an altered version of the original of this negative. The Smithsonian Institution Building was whited out, and the partial "A" on the flag was whited out in this version. A copy print was made of the original, which has not been altered, see negative number SIA2011-1081 found in Record Unit 95, Box 53, Folder: 7.
  • "Real Star-Spangled Banner," the Washington Post, July 21, 1907, page E8, contains a cropped version of this picture that still shows a small part of the Smithsonian Institution Building behind it.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 11-006

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Loans
  • United States Flag
  • Architecture
  • Gifts
  • Flags
  • Buildings


  • Object
  • Glass plate negative

ID Number

19703A or MAH-19703A

Physical description

Color: Black and white; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Object; Medium: Glass plate negative

Full Record

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