Idaho State Flag History

Jul 28th, 2016

Idaho was the 43rd state admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890. An official state flag was not adopted by the state legislature until 1907. That state flag law dictated that the “...state flag for the State of Idaho shall be blue, charged with the name of the State, in such colors and of size and dimensions as shall be prescribed by the adjutant general of the State of Idaho.” The statute also dictated that the adjutant general was responsible for supervision of the form and construction of the flag.


Idaho flag


The adjutant general ordered the state seal added to the design and dictated that it should be 5 feet 6 inches along the fly, and 4 feet 4 inches along the hoist. For information on flag terminology, read our blog post Standard U.S. Flag Parts and Terminology.


Idaho’s state seal is the only state seal in the United States that was designed by a woman, Emma Edwards Green. Her design was officially adopted by the Idaho legislature in 1891. The seal shows a woman with scales to represent justice, equality, and freedom; a liberty cap at the end of a spear to represent liberty; a miner standing by a ledge rock, a pick, and ore around his feet is pictured to represent the main occupation of the state; a shield featured between the man and the woman represents protection of the state by both men and women; the tree pictured in the shield represents the state’s large timber interests; the man plowing and the sheaf of grain represent agricultural resources; the horns of plenty represent horticulture; an elk head to represent the state’s game law that protects elk and moose; and the flower at the woman’s feet is the state flower, Mock Orange. The star was used to symbolize a new light within the many states; and the river pictured in the shield is the Shoshone River.


Idaho Seal



The problem with the flag design was that flag makers produced varied state seal images for the flags. In addition, only the photo from the state seal was used. The words “Great Seal of the State of Idaho” was not included, even though it was present on the seal design.


The Idaho legislature revised statutes related to the Idaho National Guard in 1927. The original 1907 State Flag statute was superseded by the design that had been ordered by the adjutant general. As a result, the state seal design was officially adopted by the 1927 statute.


Idaho’s state flag was rated 64th out of 72 designs that included Canadian provincial, and U.S. state, and territorial flags. This is more than likely because states that use a blue field with their state seal on them are not favored designs.


Emma Edwards Green painting of her state seal design and the original state flag that was created in 1907 are both preserved in the Idaho Historical Museum located in Boise, Idaho.


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