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Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home
200 S.E. 4th Street
PO Box 339
Abilene, KS 67410
785-263-6700 or 877 RING IKE
eisenhower.library@nara.gov

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785-263-6751

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Closed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and
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June & July
8:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Research Room Hours
M - F: 9:15 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Closed 12:00 - 12:45
Closed on Federal Holidays

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$10 Adult
$9 Senior 62 & Over
$2 Ages 6-15
FREE Ages 5 & Under
FREE Active Military

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Design of the 49- and 50-Star Flags

 

As early as 1953, members of the Eisenhower Administration were considering how a new flag would be created to include stars for the admission of the potential new states of Alaska and Hawaii. When the last states had been admitted in 1912, a joint Army-Navy board submitted recommendations to the President who made the final choice. On July 14, 1953 President Eisenhower declared that his preferred method to select a flag design was to appoint a joint committee with six members: three representatives from the Armed forces and one each from the Interior Department, State Department and Commission on Fine Arts.

In September, 1958 the White House staff decided the time had finally come to determine the procedure for selecting the 49-star flag design. On October 16, 1958 the White House issued a press release stating that the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury, along with the Chairman of the Commission on Fine Arts were appointed to informally propose the new flag designs to the President. In September 1958, Acting Secretary of the Army, had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the President. At a Cabinet meeting on November 19, 1958, President Eisenhower received a briefing on the history of the flag design process and several suggestions were made regarding designs for the new flags. The President stated a preference for seven staggered rows of seven stars and those at the meeting concurred that this kind of arrangement would easily allow for the addition of the 50th star.

The Committee formally submitted their designs for the 49-star flag on December 30, 1958. On January 3, 1959 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10798 establishing the design of the 49-star flag. On July 4, 1959 this flag was first officially raised over Fort McHenry National Historic Site with Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton presiding. The Committee formally submitted their designs for the 50-star flag on August 17, 1959. On August 21, 1959 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10834 establishing the design of the 50-star flag. This flag was first officially raised over Fort McHenry National Historic Site on July 4, 1960 with Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton presiding.

From the first year of the Eisenhower administration the public had anticipated that Alaska and Hawaii might be added as new states and that a new flag design would be needed. The earliest submission of a 50-star flag design came in 1953, but the bulk of the submissions began pouring in after the admission of Alaska in 1958. By the time the official design was declared for the 50-star flag more than 3,000 people had sent in their ideas, some of them submitting multiple designs. The designs came in a wide range of media from simple pencil sketches to professionally constructed flags. This was an especially popular project for elementary school children who expressed their ideas with construction paper, crayons, tempera paint and tiny stick-on stars.

Examples of submitted designs.
Click on the number next to the design you would like to view.
1

design 1

2 design 2 3 design 3 4 design 4
5 design 5 6 design 6 7 design 7 8 design 8
9 design 9 10 design 10 11

design 11

12 design 12
13 design 13 14 design 14 15 design 15 16 design 16
17 design 17 18 design 18 19 design 19 20 design 20

 

Letter, William Furlong to DDE regarding flag design as a function of the Executive branch, 6/8/1953 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (2)]

Memo to Col. Carroll from Miles Reher re changes to flag should number of states increase, 6/22/1953 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (2)]

Letter, DDE to Admiral Furlong re changes to flag when number of states increase, 7/14/1953 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (2)]

Memo for Governor Adams regarding the procedure for flag modification, 9/5/1958 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (2)]

Letter, Acting Secretary of Army to Secretary of Defense regarding suggestions for a 49-star flag, 9/15/1958 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (3)]

Design for 50-star flag, Design C, 9/15/1958 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (3)]

Press release announcing that a Committee consisting of the Secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury and the Commission of Fine Arts would recommend a flag design to the President, 10/16/1958 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (3)]

Memo of conference regarding flag design, 11/19/1958 [DDE’s Papers as President, DDE Diary Series, Box 37, Staff Notes November 1958]

Memo for the President from Committee regarding recommended flag design, 12/30/1958 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (4)]

Press conference, 3:58 p.m., 12/30/1958 [James C. Hagerty Papers, Box 52, October-December 1958 (1)]

Executive Order 10798 regarding flag specifications, 1/3/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (4)]

Press conference, 3:50 p.m., 1/3/1959 [James C. Hagerty Papers, Box 53, January-March 1959 (3)]

Letter, Governor Tawes of Maryland to DDE suggesting display of new flag at 12:01 a.m., July 4, at Fort McHenry, 2/12/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (6)]

86th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 38, Design of the United States Flag, 2/18/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (6)]

Letter, DDE to Fred Seaton, Secretary of Interior, regarding display of new flag at Fort McHenry, 3/4/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (6)]

Letter, DDE to Governor Tawes of Maryland regarding display of new flag at Fort McHenry, 3/4/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (6)]

Letter from J. Murray Marshall to Congressman Laurence Curtis regarding proposal to display new 50-star flag at Park Street Church, 4/16/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (9)]

Program from flag raising ceremony at Fort McHenry, 7/4/1959 [Fred A. Seaton Papers, Speeches Series, FAS Subseries, Box 32, Flag Raising Ceremony Fort McHenry Baltimore]

Letter from L. R. Wilson to Robert Merriam regarding the Fine Arts Commission’s design preference, 8/4/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (6)]

Memorandum for the President regarding the Committee’s preferred design for the 50-star flag, 8/17/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (8)]

Executive Order 10834 regarding 49-star flag design and specifications, 8/21/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (7)]

Flag design accompanying Executive Order 10834, 8/21/1959 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (7)]

Letter from Robert Merriam to Congressman Laurence Curtis regarding display of the new 50-star flag at Fort McHenry on 12:01 a.m., July 4, 6/3/1960 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (9)]

Letter and invitation from Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton to President Eisenhower inviting him to attend the flag-raising of the new 50-star flag at Fort McHenry, 6/28/1960 [DDE’s Records as President, Official File, Box 370, OF-102-C American Flag (9)]

Program from flag raising ceremony at Fort McHenry, 7/4/1960 [Fred A. Seaton Papers, Speeches Series, FAS Subseries, Box 47, 50-Star Flag Raising Ceremony Fort McHenry Maryland]

For additional information please see:

Design of the 49- and 50-Star Flags Subject Guide