Filed under: News
Columbus, OH-The Ohio Historical Society held a reception on Sunday, September 25 to honor organizations and individuals who donated to the Save the Flag Campaign. Devoted to conserving and displaying Ohio’s Civil War battle flags, the Save the Flag Campaign has raised more than $165,000 since 1998, which, along with state funding, has allowed the Society to conserve a total of 19 flags.
An important feature of the event was the presence and words of Ohio’s Adjutant General, Major General Deborah A. Ashenhurst who assumed the duties as the Adjutant General, Ohio National Guard, on January 10, 2011. While the Society is honored to be the custodian of the flags, these artifacts are actually part of the collection of the Ohio Adjutant General. This collection includes 553 flags, three quarters of which are from the Civil War.
In attendance were donors who contributed to the Battle Flag General Conservation Fund and those who adopted an individual flag. During the program, the Society recognized the donors of $1,000 and greater who were present:
- The Army of the Ohio
- 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Descendants Association
- 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Reenacting Unit
- Ohio Society Children of the American Revolution
- Mark Holbrook, The Ohio Historical Society
Additionally, the Society expressed gratitude to the numerous honorees who supported the preservation of 19 flags, which have been treated and housed in frames for display purposes. In the process of learning about the intricate preservation process, event attendees learned about the most recent developments in the Save the Flag Campaign, including:
- Two flags have recently returned from the conservator: the 5th United States Colored Troops Flank Marker and the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC) Regimental Colors. The Gordon Chandler Memorial Fund of the Columbus Foundation (for the 5th USCT Flank Marker) and the Ohio Society Children of the American Revolution & 4th OVC Descendants Association (for the 4th OVC Regimental Colors) donated funds for these flags’ preservation.
- A flag, the 2nd Ohio Veterans Volunteer Cavalry Regimental Colors, has recently gone to the conservator and will return to the Society in June 2012. The conservation of this flag is supported by the Sidney Frohman Foundation of Suffolk, VA and an anonymous donor.
- A flag from the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regimental Colors has been adopted by the Army of the Ohio, the Army Historical Foundation, and by an individual donor, Jeane H. Candido, of Dublin.
- A flag of the 121st Ohio Volunteer Infantry was adopted by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The 121st OVI was the regiment of Scotts’ founder, O.M. Scott.
This campaign and the attendees’ donations take on greater significance as Ohioans commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Ohio’s battle flags are a physical representation of Ohioans’ participation in the Civil War and a reminder of the state’s important role in it. Visitors to the Ohio History Center can view 10 of the conserved flags on display in the Follow the Flag exhibit.
The Ohio Battle Flag Collection
The Ohio Battle Flag collection is one of the largest in the country. The Ohio Battle Flag Collection was photographed before preservation in the 1960s. These prints, plus slides showing an artist’s rendition of each flag as it appeared originally, are available for viewing online. Fight for the Colors provides access to images of and information about Ohio battle flags. You also may order copies of photographs or slides by calling the Society’s Photo Duplication Office at (614) 297-2543.
The flags were gathered in the late nineteenth century at the Ohio Statehouse and exhibited there, first in the Flag Room, then in the Rotunda. In the mid-1960s, most of the flags were conserved under the direction of a Flag Preservation Committee and the National Guard. The technique involved adhering a flag to fine nylon fabric with a plastic-like substance (polyvinyl alcohol or PVA) in order to provide stability and support for the flag. About half of the flags were mounted for hanging, while the rest either were not treated or were treated and furled around flag poles.
The Society exhibited the hanging and furled flags for public viewing until 1988. Over time, however, the PVA became brittle and the nylon fabric supports began to curl and fray. Due to concern about their condition, the flags were removed to the Society’s storage facility, where they are protected from dust, light and handling while they await new conservation treatment.
Save the Flags Campaign
Funds raised by the Save the Flags Campaign will conserve the Ohio Battle Flag Collection. The goals of the campaign are to: 1) use new conservation techniques to save the flags from further deterioration; 2) make them available again for research examination; and 3) provide for possible exhibit, under suitable conditions for conservation. Treatment will involve removing the earlier PVA treatment and mounting the fragile flags in new supports. A conservator’s examination revealed that a Civil War silk battle flag is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $30,000; the cost varies based on the condition and size of the flag. To donate to the Save the Flag Campaign, please contact the Ohio Historical Society’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (614) 297-2320 or (800) 647-6921.
About the Ohio Historical Society
The Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology, natural history and historic places. The Society oversees a network of 58 historic sites across Ohio. For more information on the sites, visit: www.ohiohistory.org/places/name.html. The Ohio History Center in Columbus houses the Ohio Historical Society, the State Museum, the Archives/Library, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the headquarters for the sites and the headquarters of the Ohio Village. Membership in the Society provides free admission to all 58 sites in the statewide network of historic sites. : www.OhioHistory.org/membership.