Thursday, June 27, 2019

Historic Arkansas State Flags Return after Conservation

Curator Julienne Crawford and Hunter Foster, archival assistant for conservation,
unpack the original design of the Arkansas State Flag, which was sent off for restoration last year.

Historic Arkansas State flags are back at the Arkansas State Archives after being sent off for conservtion this past November.

“These flags are symbols of our state’s heritage, pride and identity,” said Dr. Wendy Richter, State Archives director and state historian. “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to conserve such iconic pieces of our history.”

The flags were returned June 18 and are in storage, said Julienne Crawford, curator. They may be displayed in the future for brief time periods, but display times must be limited to protect the flags, she said. Previous displays years ago subjected the flags to light exposure that faded and weakened the fabrics.

A historic State Flag, likely donated in 1916 is
in storage at the State Archives after being restored.
One of the flags is the original flag design that Willie Hocker submitted to the flag competition that selected the state’s first official flag. Her design had three stars in the middle with no words. Hocker was later asked to add the word “Arkansas” for the final flag, which the state adopted in 1913. The other state flag is a very early, 1900s State flag with the word “Arkansas” written in blue. It likely was donated to the State Archives in 1916.

The flags were conserved by Textile Preservation Associates, Inc., in West Virginia, through a grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. The flags were cleaned, repaired where possible, and encased in custom-made exhibition cases. The final cost for conservation work was about $12,400, which was below estimated costs.

The company recommended the flags be protected from light because they already have sustained so much damage from exposure. Even with restoration and protective measures, the flags remain delicate.

For more information about the flags, contact the Arkansas State Archives at 501-682-6900. To view the proposed designs for the State Flag, visit the Arkansas Digital Ark-ives website at http://ahc.digital-ar.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16790coll2 or read about the Arkansas State Flag on the secretary of state website at https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/education/arkansas-history/history-of-the-flag/story-of-the-flag.  



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