History of US Flag

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by TNTCrazyLady, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. TNTCrazyLady

    TNTCrazyLady New Member

    Hi all I'm new. I was just packing and ran across my old 1962 US History school book and wondered if anyone can give a history of the US flag and please no Betsy Ross stuff ... just the real stuff on how it looks, how and when to display and where those rules and regs orginated. I ask because in my old history book it has a different set of rules and regs for peacetime and wartime ...

    Thanks in advance ;-}
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, TNT, welcome to the forum.

    You are right that there is a lot of "fluff" out there about the history of the US flag. There are two books that I recommend:

    1. The History of the United States Flag, from the Revolution to the Present, Including a Guide to its Use and Display, by Milo Quaife. This book was published in 1960 or so, and the information on the flag code is somewhat dated, but it is still the best concise source on the flag's history.

    2. So Proudly We Hail, the History of the United States Flag, by William Furlong and Byron McCandless. This is somewhat more detailed than the Quaife book, and is also heavily illustrated. It was published in the 80s, so the flag code information is (again) slightly out-of-date.

    Both of the above books are out of print, but used copies are easy to find on the internet at reasonable prices. Many public libraries have them also.

    For a modern and more detailed source, Marc Leepson's book Flag: An American Biography is also very good.

    To be honest, I do not know of any single source that properly covers the flag code and flag etiquette in general. I'd recommend reading the posts in the appropriate sections of this forum -- there is a lot of good information there.

    If you have any specific questions, let us know -- that's what the forum is here for.

    Best regards,

    Peter Ansoff
  3. TNTCrazyLady

    TNTCrazyLady New Member

    Thanks Peter - it's kinda strange that my old history book and my children's old 1996 US History book have different information. What a mess. I will look for the books you recommend. It is very upsetting to see the miss-match between the two history books - there are many other US History subjects that seem to be missing from my children's old book compared to what was in mine. How can pre-1900's US History change so much from my grade school history book to this generations history books? ... very un-nerving ...
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Well, there's over one hundred more years of history to cover!

    Seriously, though, the standards of historical research are much higher these days. For example the Betsy Ross story gained hold as popular legend pretty quickly, but I'm pretty sure that real historians in the 19th century considered it as just what it is - a family story. Without contemporary documentation I don't think we can give Ms. Ross much more credit than the dozen or so other flagmakers in Philadelphia at the time.
  5. TNTCrazyLady

    TNTCrazyLady New Member

    Nava1974 -I can understand some things changing as technology and human knowledge become more precise and I agree we have better and more accurate historical documentation in research today, but that does not really affect this type of miss-match of information. Even if the rules and regs for displaying the flag have changed (which apparently they have) one would think to be as accurate as possible the 198x book would have made some statement to signify that today there is no difference between peacetime and wartime display rules and regs of the flag. Now THAT would be accurate reporting of history, not leaving the information out entirely.

    What started the whole comparing of the two elementary school US history books was finding this discrepancy and then finding documentation in the Library of Congress and Smithsonian during a trip to DC in 2008 that my old history book was more complete and hence more accurate than my children's history book was. My kids, being kids, even if they are now in their late 20's, asked why this difference and what else is different? They are like me and need more than just the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and my old school book to help come up with a reason that they can understand and live with. Especially since my reasoning of "I guess you have more US history to learn than I did" did not do it for them. I am really kinda glad and proud of their more inquiring minds rather than them just accepting my rational. They will be less likely to fall into the trap of believing "any old thing" that is put in print with this inquiring attitude!!!!

    Peter - I found "The History of the United States Flag, from the Revolution to the Present, by Milo Quaife" on Amazon and have ordered it. I am looking forward to reading it.

    Thank you all ;-}

    PS - Part of my children's and my "inquiring" attitude is being spurred on by a personal experience here in NM where two years ago one little word "navigateble" was removed from state taxing documents regarding water, which is now causing us to move because private water wells are on the verge of being metered and taxed. Until the legislature removed that ONE word, which had been in NM historical and current governmental documents for decades, NM citizens paid a one time tax on the digging of the private water wells and not continuous taxes. Sometimes missing words and or information can be costly, very, very costly and I hope this is not happening unilaterally in other subjects and documents (historical or legal) across our country.
  6. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    TNT, could you tell us more about your old history book, and what it had to say about the difference between wartime and peacetime usage? I don't recall that that distinction was ever made in the flag code.

    On the Quaife book -- I forgot to mention in the previous post that there are two versions of his book, with almost identical titles. One was published in the 1940s, and one in 1959 or 60. They are both very good. The older one is not as up to date (obviously), but has more detail. I have both in my library.

    As far as I know, nobody has ever written a definitive history of the flag code. I have done a little bit of research on how it has developed over the years; you'll find discussions of that in many posts here in the forum.

    Peter Ansoff
  7. TNTCrazyLady

    TNTCrazyLady New Member


    Sure thing but this may take me a bit of time as I am de-clutter packing so my house can go on the market and I can move. The books, as well as 99% of ALL my books are packed and now in a POD. Depending on how fast I can sell and relocate will depend on when I can unpack and check the publisher, date, author and stuff like that. I can tell you it was Nobel Elementary in Gary, Indiana and I attended there back in the early to mid 60's. Even though my kids were going to donate their old history book from Comanche Elementary of Albuquerque, NM I packed it with my old school books so I can get that books information when I unpack too.

    I have added this little "task" and to check my dad’s old WWII Navel Handbook to my relocation check list so I won't forget no matter how hectic or slow this house selling and relocating goes. I will not forget. I am an avid list person and don't throw a list out until I accomplish all the items on the list ;-}

    From what I can tell from my electronic receipt, the book I ordered is the 60's one. I'm still looking forward to receiving it and hope to have time to actually read it and not have to pack it for a latter read. Wish me luck this selling of my house is rather nerve racking and unknown territory in this economy.

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