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The Museum's summer 2021 exhibition, Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today, showcased dozens of rare American flags alongside historic early state constitutions and the first printing of the proposed U.S. Constitution of 1787.

The flags — many of which had never been exhibited before — traced the evolution of the Stars and Stripes through the addition and subtraction of stars as new states joined the Union and the nation battled through the Civil War. The flags served as a visual narrative of America's national story. The flags were showcased alongside historic documents including early printings of more than 16 different state constitutions and the Choctaw Nation Constitution of 1838 to shed light on the triumphs and tensions that the United States faced as it expanded and worked toward creating a “more perfect Union.”

I am thrilled to [...] share this visually dynamic and historically significant collection of flags that illustrates the advance from 13 stars to 50.
Jeff Bridgman, American Antiques

By telling stories from the nation’s revolutionary roots to its continuing struggle over equal rights, Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today encouraged visitors to consider their role in the ongoing effort to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution.

It is my deepest wish that this exhibition will inspire all of us to have an impact on our future by participating in the governance of the United States.
Dorothy Tapper Goldman, a collector and philanthropist

The collection of historic flags was on loan from Jeff R. Bridgman, a leading dealer of antique flags and political textiles. The documents were on loan from the Dorothy Tapper Goldman Foundation following their exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, titled Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions: Creating the American Republic, curated by Dr. James F. Hrdlicka.

Family-Friendly Activities

  • printed Family Guide full of games and activities.
  • Pop-up talks with a Museum educator that examined replica Revolutionary flags and investigated how they were made and who made them.
  • discovery cart where visitors could learn the story of Rebecca Flower Young, who worked as a military contractor in Philadelphia making flags and drum cases for the Continental Army.
  • Activity stations where visitors could express what’s meaningful to them by making their own flag and use movable magnetics to write their own constitution.
Image 031622 16x9 Flags Founding Documents Lockup
America 250’s official recognition of Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-Today acknowledges the program as an expression of the America 250 vision to inspire the American spirit.

Explore the founding documents portion of the exhibit in the virtual exhibit, Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions, as it was exhibited at New-York Historical Society.

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