The Smithsonian Institution is looking for remnants of America’s original flag, which was raised over Baltimore after soldiers and citizens successfully fought off a British attack.
The Smithsonian Museum is home to the country’s first flag, but pieces of it were snipped off through the late 1800s, resulting in a loss of almost 20 percent of the flag.
At the time, those cuttings were considered keepsakes of a flag that had come to stand for freedom.
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"It was such a monumental moment in time that people felt they wanted to hold a piece of that history," Jennifer Jones, a curator of the flag at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, told The Associated Press
The Smithsonian has been able to acquire 17 pieces of the original flag since it came to the museum in 1907. One piece that’s still missing, in particular, would be a valuable find. The 15th star was cut away before 1873, and conservator Suzanne Thomassen-Krauss told the AP that “We’d love to have that back.”
The pieces have not been reattached to the flag, but she said she might put that star back on if it were found.
The original flag, which measured 30 feet by 42 feet when it was sewed, underwent an extensive renovation and preservation process in 1998. A team of curators worked on the flag for weeks, painstakingly removing the linen backing, which was sewed on with more than 1.7 million tiny stitches, the Smithsonian website said
The team even captured the dirt that was under the backing and analyzed it to provide an even more detailed history of the flag.
Such attention to detail is why the Smithsonian continues to look for scraps of red and blue fabric that may have been cut away from the flag. At least two families have brought forward keepsakes for the Smithsonian to determine if they might be parts of the flag.
“Museum conservators are using microscopes, X-rays and other equipment to analyze their weaves, stains and soils to see if they match,” the AP said.
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