JEFFERSON CITY –– The Missouri State Museum is providing online viewing of Civil War battle flags through Missouri Digital Heritage. This important history can be seen first-hand at the Missouri State Capitol or by visiting the online gallery.
The Missouri State Museum has overseen the conservation of 45 battle flags. From now through June 2015, as part of the “Civil War Missouri: A House Dividing” exhibit, the museum is displaying seven flags in its History Hall on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol. The seven flags on display will change every six months to allow the public to view as many as possible over the course of the exhibit.
The Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative, co-sponsored by the Missouri State Archives and the Missouri State Library, provides the Civil War battle flags for the first time to an online audience. This gives the opportunity for all Missourians to have an additional resource for viewing their state’s history.
The online gallery is found at sos.mo.gov/archives/mdh_splash/default.asp?coll=cwflag.
“Preserving history is an important way for Missourians to connect with our past,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “Making the Civil War battle flags available online significantly increases citizen access to our history.”
Following the end of the Civil War, Missouri Adjutant General Samuel P. Simpson collected Union and Confederate battle flags for safekeeping. Damage made some of the flags unrecognizable. An Adjutant General report around 1917-1920 reported the flags were in very bad shape. The flags were turned over to the new Missouri State Museum by the Adjutant General’s office in the 1920s.
A Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s attempted to conserve many of the battle flags. But today with advanced technology we have learned the flags were sometimes damaged further by this conservation effort.
In 1983 the St. Louis Civil War Roundtable was disappointed by the condition of the battle flags. Due to the group effort, an organization to finance flag conservation was formed and in 1984 a legislative appropriation was secured to begin conserving flags. The conservation effort continues through the present day with funding from the parks and soils sales tax administered through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
For more information about the Missouri State Museum, visit the website at mostateparks.com.
The Missouri State Museum is located on the First Floor, Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. For more information regarding this project, call the museum directly at 573-751-2854 or the Missouri Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf).