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Conserving New York State Battle Flags

The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs is responsible for the care and interpretation of the New York State Battle Flag Collection, a group of over 1,800 military flags dating from the War of 1812 to the present. They are an important resource in the study of military history and textiles. These fragile and worn banners are also a tangible reminder of the courage and patriotism of those New Yorkers who served their state and country.

In 1997, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), in cooperation with the Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA), undertook a preliminary survey of the New York State Battle Flag Collection, funded by a Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program grant. The survey report recommended a program of care for the flags and the development of a flag archive to insure the flags“ long-term preservation.

Click on the images below to enlarge them

In 1997, DMNA with curators and conservators from the Peebles Island Resource Center of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation surveyed New York State“s battle flags to assess their condition and develop recommendations for their preservation.

curators and conservators from the Peebles Island Resource Center of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation surveyed New York States battle flags to assess their condition and develop recommendations for their preservation

Sergeant John Lyon and Corporal Melvin Tucker with flags from the 16th New York, Ca. 1865. Unknown photographer, nd. New York State Military Museum & Veterans Research Center.

Sergeant John Lyon and Corporal Melvin Tucker with flags from the 16th New York, ca. 1865

The main goals of the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project were:

  1. Document the flags, using written reports and photography
  2. Create accessible storage for scholars, curators and the public.
  3. Stabilize the flags to reduce deterioration following the AIC Code of Ethics at aic.stanford.edu/pubs/ethics.html. The goal is not to restore the flags to their original appearance.
  4. Store and exhibit the flags in a controlled environment, i.e. light and humidity.
  5. Reduce the handling of the flags after conservation by storing and displaying them flat, using the same mount for storage and exhibition.

For more information about conservation and conservators, please explore the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)’s website at: aic.stanford.edu (link opens new window). They can help you find a conservator for your special object.

See also:

What do we know about the condition of New York‘s Battle Flags?

What are we doing to save New York State‘s Battle Flags?

Conserving New York State‘s Battle Flags

© NYS DMNA: Military History Museum: Conserving New York State Battle Flags
Page Last Modified: Thursday, 23-Jun-2016 12:41:05 EDT