Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, July 4, 2013


During the 19th century, Francis Scott Key's “The Star-Spangled Banner” became one of the nation’s best-loved patriotic songs, performed during both public events and more personal gatherings.  Did you know that some young teen aged girls helped make the flag that inspired the song?
Illustration by Bess Bruce Cleaveland (1925)

"In the summer of 1813, Mary Pickersgill (1776–1857) was contracted to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. The one that became the "Star-Spangled Banner" was a 30 x 42–foot garrison flag; the other was a 17 x 25–foot storm flag for use in inclement weather. Pickersgill, a thirty-seven-year-old widow, was an experienced maker of ships’ colors and signal flags. She filled orders for many of the military and merchant ships that sailed into Baltimore’s busy port. 

Helping Pickersgill make the flags were her thirteen-year-old daughter Caroline; nieces Eliza Young (thirteen) and Margaret Young (fifteen); and a thirteen-year-old African American indentured servant, Grace Wisher. Pickersgill’s elderly mother, Rebecca Young, from whom she had learned flagmaking, may have helped as well. 

Pickersgill and her assistants spent about seven weeks making the two flags. They assembled the blue canton and the red and white stripes of the flag by piecing together strips of loosely woven English wool bunting that were only 12 or 18 inches wide."  {Read More...SOURCE: Smithsonian American History}

The Flag Maker by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.  (K-2)
This book, set in lyrical prose, is the story of the flag which came to be known as the Star-Spangled Banner.  After seeing the flag at the Smithsonian Institution, author Susan Campbell Bartoletti became curious about the hands that had sewn it. Here is her story of this flag as seen through the eyes of flag maker Mary Pickersgill's daughter, young Caroline Pickersgill. Through the story we realize how this flag initiates action and emotion, brings people together, and inspires hope and courage.

Mary Young Pickersgill: Flag Maker of the Star Spangled Banner by Sally Johnston and Pat Pilling. (Ages 10 and up).
This fascinating chapter book explains how Mary Pickersgill learned to make flags, where she obtained the four hundred yards of fabric, woven only in England, to make the flag, how she organized a small work force of young women, including a free African-American indentured servant, to sew the flags and where she found a workplace to make such large flags.

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