Illinois's Flag History

In 1912, Mrs. Ella Park Lawrence, State Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, began a campaign to create an official state banner to represent the state of Illinois in the Continental Memorial Hall in Washington, DC. Visiting all of the state Chapters of the D.A.R., Mrs Lawrence lobbied most vigorously. A $25.00 prize was offered to the Chapter submitting the best design.

Four judges evaluated thirty-five designs and eventually selected the entry designed by Miss Lucy Derwent of the Rockford Chapter. The design was approved by both houses of the General Assembly and became law on July 16, 1915 without the signature of Governor Edward F. Dunn. This flag flew proudly over Illinois for fifty-five years.

While serving in Vietnam, Chief Petty Officer Bruce McDaniel of Waverly became concerned over a deficiency of design of his Illinois State Flag. One of many state flags that hung in his mess hall, its identity was consistently questioned. McDaniel requested that the design of the flag be amended to include the state's name.

A bill to amend the original act of 1915 was sponsored, approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Ogilvie on September 17, 1969. This bill authorized a new flag to carry the state's name. Governor Olgilvie appointed a committee consisting of the State Historian, the Director of the Illinois Information Service and the State Records Archivist to develop specifications for the new flag to ensure uniformity in production and color by flag makers. Mrs. Sanford Hutchison of Greenfield was brought in to assist. Mrs. Hutchison had previously done extensive research on the design for the State Seal and she submitted a design for this new flag that was accepted by the committee, the Secretary of State and the Governor on July 1, 1970.

The flag includes the emblem of the Illinois State Shield on a white field. The name of the state represented by the flag, Illinois, is printed below the emblem in blue upper case letters. The Bald Eagle, representing the United States, holds a red streamer in its beak. The State Motto, "State sovereignty, national union" means that Illinois governs itself under the government of the United States. In the Bald Eagle's talons is a shield with thirteen bars and thirteen stars representing the original thirteen colonies. The date Illinois was admitted to the Union and the date of the State Seal are printed on the boulder. The ground around the boulder symbolizes the rich soil of this prairie state.

Link here to the Illinois State Historical Society for facts, figures, and history of Illinois.