Who wrote the US Flag Code?
September 9, 2016 9:15 PM   Subscribe

I've established that the US Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference in 1923, and was written by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, the American Library Association, and "over 60 other organizations" under the leadership of the American Legion. But I cannot find out who those "over 60 other organizations" were, despite a couple hours of very frustrating Googling. Can any of you fine people lend me a hand with this information?
posted by KathrynT to Law & Government (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From an http://www.legion.org/history:

"June 15, 1923

The first "Flag Code" is drafted during a [n American] Legion conference in Washington. Congress adopts the code in 1942. Today, the Legion is at the forefront of efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration. "

It's copyrighted, and not easily available. To find those conference proceedings:


Find them in a library:

posted by the Real Dan at 11:41 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree with the Real Dan that you'll have to try to get the American Legion report from a library. This congressional hearing http://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951d02092142r from when the flag code was adopted into the US Code mentions some of the flag conference participants but doesn't have a full list. In fact the witnesses don't seem to know exactly how many organizations attended the conference. (There is also an amusing discussion of flag fringe and whether you should stand up if the Star Spangled Banner is part of a medley.)
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2016

This is the sort of thing the ALA Library might be able to answer because it loosely concerns them and they have someone there who can answer reference questions Possibly drop them a note or even consider a phone call? Karen Muller has been there forever and is a really sharp cookie. Tell her I sent you.
posted by jessamyn at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wow, Jessamyn, that's like the mother lode of helpful answers. I have left the ALA Library Reference Desk a phone message and may also follow up with an email; I have high hopes that they will be able to at least send me in the right direction!

(Also I have this feeling that in the library world, saying "Jessamyn West suggested I give you a call" is the equivalent of saying, I don't know, "I got your number from Batman" or something.)
posted by KathrynT at 4:13 PM on September 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you follow the link from the Real Dan to online search of Annual Convention of the American ... no.5 1923 it has over 100 occurrences of the word "flag" on pages 4-9. So that would seem to be a place to look.

I couldn't find anything in Google Books, but there is in the American Legion Digital Archive a program from the national convention. The cover features a spectacular piece of art depicting San Francisco's Ferry Building, with a streetcar turnaround and a crush of people on a pedestrian bridge, none of which is there anymore. That isn't a conference in Washington, though. Unfortunately, it looks like they haven't digitized any of the reports resulting from the conferences before 1960. Looking at the programs, 1922 was in New Orleans, Louisiana, so it doesn't seem to have been a national convention, anyway.

However, searching around in the archive for flag code gives The American Legion Weekly [Volume 5, No. 27 (July 6, 1923)] which says, "The conference called by the Legion's National Americanism Commission in Washington last month to draft a clarified and simplified code of etiquette for the Flag of the United States performed a valuable service to the nation." A followup article the next year says, "On Flag Day, June 14, 1923, representatives of sixty eight organizations assembled in Washington, D. C, for a National Flag Conference." but only mentions the Legion and Sons of the American Revolution.

Googling for the Flag Conference and SotAR, I get the latter's bulletins:
The Flag Code Committee comprised ... D. A. R.; ... D. C. S. A. R. ; ... Boy Scouts of America; ... National Congress of Mothers; ... American Legion, New York Department; ... American Legion, Ohio Department; ... U. D. C.; ... U. S. Navy; and ... U. S. Army, advisers.
Didn't realize that the Congress of Mothers became the PTA, or that Mussolini was invited to the American Legion as late as 1930!
posted by wnissen at 10:53 PM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The article wnissen found from The American Legion Weekly gives the members of the committee who wrote the code:

"The following committee drew up the flag code: Gridley Adams, chairman during first of four committee conferences; John L. Riley, The American Legion, Department of New York, vice-chairman and acting chairman during remaining three committee conferences and for remainder of main conference; Mrs. Anthony Wayne Cook, president general, D. A. R.; O. C. Luxford, S. A. R.; Capt. George M. Chandler, U. S. A.; Lt. Col. H. S. Kerrick, The American Legion, Department of Ohio; E. S. Martin, Boy Scouts of America; Henry Osgood Holland, National Congress of Mothers; Mrs. Livingston Rowe Schuyler, president general, United Daughters of the Confederacy; Capt. Chester Wells, U. S. N."

The American Legion also has its own library and archives. They'd probably be helpful.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:45 AM on September 12, 2016

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