Oneofthemanycarte-de-visitephotographsin

theNationalHeritageMuseumcollectionshowsa
youngman,dressedinKnightsTemplarregalia,
clutchingtheAmericanflagthatstandsnexttohim.
Unfortunately,wedonotknowwhotheyoungman
is,wherehelivedorwhotookthephotograph.But,
wecansurmisethathechosetohavetheflaginhis
picture.Late-1800sphotographersoftenmaintained
acollectionofpropsforsitterstouseintheirphotos.
Theimageofthisyoungman,standingbyhiscoun-
try’sflag,embracingitashewouldafriend,helpsto
showthatourflaghasbeenameaningfulsymbolfor
centuries.

TheNationalHeritageMuseumlocatedat

SupremeCouncilheadquartersinLexington,MA,
hasover50flagsinitscollection.MostareAmerican
flagsofvaryingsizeswithanywherefrom13to50
stars.Inaddition,theMuseum’scollectionincludes
Masonicandfraternalflags,aswellasafewstate
flags.Highlightedhereareafewofourflagtreas-
ures,eachwithaninterestingstoryorrepresenting
animportantcomponentofourcollection.

In1813,fromherhomeontheForeRiverin

WeymouthLanding,MA,eight-year-oldHarriet
“Hattie”Whitepresentedasilk13-starflagtoa
companyofWeymouthExempts.Theflagwastreas-
uredinthefamily,passeddownthroughfivegenera-
tionsanddonatedtotheNationalHeritageMuseum
byFrancisandChristieWymanlastfall;Christie
KennedyWymanisHarrietWhite’sgreat-great-
greatgranddaughter.

Thesilk13-starflagfromWeymouth,MA,isthe

newestadditiontoourflagcollection.Itfitsourcol-
lectingcriteriatoaT—ithasafascinatingstory,it
relatestoAmericanhistory,anditisinverygood
conditionforitsage.Thedonorsprovidedexcellent
detailsabouttheflag’shistory.HarrietWhitewas
borninWeymouth,MA,in1805,thedaughterof

MajorJohnWhite(1757-1816)andNancyBabcock
White(1775-1871).TheWhitefamilydescended
fromoneofWeymouth’searlysettlers,Thomas
White,whoarrivedin1624.Harriet’sgrandfather,
JamesWhite(1712-93),servedinseveraltownof-
ficesandasthetown’srepresentativetothestateleg-
islature.In1798,Harriet’sfather,JohnWhite,be-
camecommanderoftheWeymouthLight-Horse
Troop.Havingreachedhis50sby1812,itisnotsur-
prisingthatJohnwasservinginthelocalmilitiain
WeymouthduringtheWarof1812,ratherthan
travelingtothefrontlines.

Accordingtofamilytradition,theflagwasmade

byagroupofwomeninWeymouth.Harriet’sfemale
relativesmayhavebeentheleadersofthisgroup,and
perhapsyoungHarrietassistedbysewingthe
straightseamdownthecenterormakingsomeof
theneathemmingstitchesalongtheedges.Twelve
bluesilkfive-pointstarsareappliquédtoeachsideof
theflaginacentralovalshape.Alargerfive-point
starisstitchedinthemiddle.Oneendhasastripof

6

February2009/

TheNorthernLight

ByAIMEEE.NEWELL

LONGMAY

SHEWAVE

39-StarAmericanFlag,1889,American,NationalHeritageMuseum,giftof

RobertA.Frank.PhotographbyDavidBohl.

THEFLAGCOLLECTIONATTHENATIONALHERITAGEMUSEUM