Conservation and Symbols of Revolutionary Flags with Textile Conservator Virginia WhelanJune 12, 2020
What color blue was General George Washington's Standard? Was the Monmouth flag considered an American flag or a British flag? Can you name all the different parts of a flag?
Textile conservator Virginia Whelan recently sat down with Museum of the American Revolution President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson for a discussion on materials and symbolism found in flags from the Revolutionary era and the delicate work of conserving those flags. She and Stephenson talked in-depth about three specific flags, all of which Whelan helped conserve, including the Monmouth flag, a flag captured by British Army officer William Dansey, and General Washington's Standard.
The Monmouth flag is on loan from Monmouth County Historical Association, the Dansey flag was displayed at the Museum during Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier while on loan from Delaware Historical Society, and Washington's headquarters flag is part of the Museum's collection and was conserved with funds provided by the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution and its Color Guard.
Virginia Jarvis Whelan is a textile conservator and sole proprietor of Filaments Conservation Studio, based outside Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in the conservation and treatment of historic needlework and fine textiles. Whelan received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. in Art Conservation from Winterthur/University of Delaware with a concentration in textiles. In 2015, Whelan was commissioned by the Museum of the American Revolution to stabilize and frame Washington’s Commander-in-Chief 13-star silk flag. She also conserved Washington’s War Tent—a centerpiece of the Museum—and was part of the team that prepared it for display.
Explore more Revolutionary-era flags, including the Monmouth Flag and the Forster Flag, throughout the Museum's galleries any time with our free Virtual Museum Tour. Plus, check out Washington's Standard, believed to be the earliest surviving 13-star American flag, in the Museum's collection.
This interview was releasted as part of Flag Day Weekend with the Museum, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance, which included a look at the origins of the American flag by Chief Historian Dr. Philip Mead, a design-your-own flag craft, and a live flag-making demonstration and discussion of the Monmouth and Forster flag's messages and meanings with the Museum's Gallery Interpretation Manager Tyler Putman.