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Kansas State Flag

Kansas State FlagThe fight to secure a state flag goes back to 1915 when then Governor Arthur Capper wrote to various other states inquiring about their flags, if they had one, and how they went about deciding on a design. The Michigan Historical Commission had suggested the state seal on a blue background.

In 1916 the Daughters of the American Revolution held a contest to select a flag design. The winner was Esther Northrup of Lawrence who suggested three broad horizontal stripes, red, white, and blue. In the upper left was a gold sunflower on a blue background with the state seal as its center. Although it was submitted to the legislature in 1917, it was not accepted.

The debate over the Northrup flag, and other proposals, continued. At one point Topeka artist Albert T. Reid was asked to submit a design. His flag was a gold sunflower on a blue background. It received some popular acceptance.

In 1925 the legislature did select a state banner. The banner was designed to hang from a horizontal bar. It contained the earlier familiar elements, the sunflower and state seal centered in a blue field. Above this was "Kansas" and at the bottom was a draped gold fringe.

Rather than solve any problems, the selection of a banner intensified the conflict. The Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization, was the primary sponsor of the design and they were happy because the banner would not compete with the U.S. flag. Some felt the sunflower was a weed worse than the "cocklebur" and thought it had no place. The D.A.R. was unhappy because members wanted a flag, not a banner. Groups such as the National Guard found it impossible to march with the banner. It was rejected for display with other state flags in Washington.

It would be the influence of Adjutant General Milton R. McLean who actually pushed the act "designating the form and color" of a state flag to passage on March 21, 1927. The basic elements were a blue field with the state seal in the center. Above this was the state crest. This was an insignia designated by the U.S. War Department in 1923 and was made up of a sunflower beneath which was a bar or wreath meant to symbolize the Louisiana Purchase. The legislature in 1961 added the word "Kansas" to the bottom of the flag and required all schools to display it. In 1963 the size was reduced to make it smaller than the national flag.

Entry: Kansas State Flag

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: April 2010

Date Modified: September 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.