Illinois State Flag History

Sep 23rd, 2016

Illinois was the 21st state admitted to the Union on December 3, 1818. The state did not adopt a state flag until 1915, 97 years after it became a state.


Illinois State Flag


The current flag has a white field, and part of the Illinois state seal is featured in the center. The years 1818 and 1868 are written in a rock within the seal. The year 1818 denotes the year that Illinois became a state. The year 1868 was the year that the state seal was redesigned.


Illinois Seal 


The adoption of Illinois’ first official state flag was initiated by Ella Park Lawrence, the state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR, in 1912. She did not succeed but continued to push for the adoption of a flag. In an effort to reach that goal, she announced a state flag design contest. Out of 35 designs entered into the contest, the winner was Lucy Derwent. Although her design was passed in the House and the Senate, the governor did not sign or veto the bill. As a result, the bill became law in 1915.


During the 1960s, a petition was submitted to amend the state flag law by adding the state name to the existing official flag. Bruce McDaniel, chief petty officer, had noted that those he served with in Vietnam had not recognized the Illinois’ banner. He thought adding the state name would resolve that issue. The bill was signed into law by the governor in 1969. Mrs. Sanford Hutchinson designed the new flag and it became the official state flag in 1970.


In 1918, Wallace Rice designed a centennial flag for the state of Illinois. The field had three horizontal stripes of white, blue and white. Illinois was the 21st state admitted to the union. To represent that fact, Rice’s design featured one white star in the center of the middle blue stripe symbolize Illinois; ten blue stars, representing the ten northern states, were placed in the white edge along the upper fly, and ten blue stars along the lower white edge of the fly represented the ten southern states.


Illinois Centennial Flag


The North American Vexillilogical Association survey conducted in 2001 ranked the design of the Illinois state flag 49th out of 72 flags. The flags of Canadian Provinces and U.S. states and terrorities were included in the survey. Those that participated in the survey did not rank any flags that contained a state seal very high in the results.


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