Rare 20-Star Flag to be Preserved

The Foundation for Mississippi History is raising funds to preserve a historic United States flag that marked Mississippi’s entrance into the nation. The flag flew over the young country only in 1818, the year after Mississippi became the twentieth state. The conservation of this rare Twenty-Star Flag, one of only a handful known to exist, has been adopted by the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Commission as an official project for the state’s 2017 commemorations.

The flag represents Mississippi's place as the 20th state. Mississippi became the 20th state in 1817.

The large flag’s many holes and frayed edges require immediate attention. Though the red and blue colors remain vibrant, the fragile gauze fabric is delicate to the touch, and the hand-sewn white stars have discolored over time.

The historic flag was discovered in an antique shop in Massachusetts, and acquired by MDAH in 2001. The flag was originally owned by a Captain Weston of Marshfield, Massachusetts, and flew on one of his ships.

Textile Preservation Associates, flag conservation specialists in West Virginia, will do the work. The business recently did conservation work on the 11th Mississippi Cavalry Civil War flag for the Department of Archives and History. The conservation process will include vacuuming, humidification (wetting the fabric to release the dirt), and flattening the textile. The flag will then be pressure-mounted into a frame.

The flag is the official symbol of the Bicentennial Commission. Once it has been restored, the banner will travel the state in anticipation of Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration and the opening of the new Museum of Mississippi History, where the Twenty-Star Flag will be on permanent display.

For now the flag remains in storage until restoration can begin. The estimated cost to preserve and exhibit the flag is $50,000. Contributions will ensure that this irreplaceable Mississippi artifact is protected for generations to come. To make a donation, or for more information about the project, visit www.mshistory.net or call 601-576-6855.

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