The Story of the American Flag Through Stamps

Promoting a National Flag Day

37-cent 1893 Silk Bookmark stamp
This stamp highlights a photograph of a brightly colored silk bookmark woven as a souvenir for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the same year as the Flag Day exercises in Philadelphia.

Across the country, others began advocating and planning Flag Day celebrations throughout the 1890s. On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned patriotic activities for his students. The New York State Board of Education later adopted his observance of Flag Day statewide. In 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J. Granville Leach, the historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America adopted a resolution in 1893 urging the mayor of Philadelphia, all others in authority, and all private citizens to display the American flag on June 14th. The Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Colonial Dames. Colonel Leach also recommended that the day be thereafter known as Flag Day. As a result, Dr. Edward Brooks, Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, declared that Flag Day exercises would be held on June 14, 1893, in Independence Square. On that day, school children assembled for appropriate exercises and each child received a small flag.