Montana State Flag History

Oct 15th, 2016

Montana was the 41st state admitted to the Union on November 3, 1889. The state adopted an official state flag in 1905, only six years after it became a state. The flag had a blue field and featured the state seal in the center. The state flag code was amended in 1981 to add the state’s name above the state seal.


Montana State Flag


Although the flag was not officially adopted until 1905, it had been the unofficial flag since 1898 when the Montana Volunteers carried it in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. That flag was from dark blue silk with the state seal hand embroidered in the center. Above the seal, the words “First Montana Infantry, U.S.V.” are embroidered with white thread. Gold fringe decorates the top and bottom. This flag is currently housed at the Historical Society of Montana. When it was officially adopted in 1905, the words “First Montana Infantry, U.S.V.” were deleted.

The resulting flag was hard to reproduce due to the lack of specifications in the 1905 flag statute. Manufacturers copied the colors of the unofficial flag as closely as possible, but the result was variations in the shades of blue used in the field.


Montana 1905


There has been one amendment, in addition to the 1981 change to add the state name. In 1985, the font used for the state name was changed to Helvetica in bold gold colored letters.


The North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey in 2001. Out of 72 Canadian and U.S. state and territory flag designs, Montana’s flag was ranked 70th. It is the third worst flag, behind Nebraska, 71st, and Georgia, 72nd. Most state flags that contain the state seal or coat of arms ranked low in the survey because they were hard to distinguish from other state flags.


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