by Jill Holt, Curator of Textiles
Oklahoma became a state on November 16, 1907. The first state flag was adopted in 1911. It featured a five-point white star edged in blue centered on a field of red. The number 46 was in the center of the star in recognition of Oklahoma being the 46th state admitted to the Union. According to the Chronicles of Oklahoma, the first flag was dubbed the “red rag of sedition” and was viewed in a negative manner following the Russian Revolution of 1917. The flag was also not popular due to the association with red flags hung on homes to indicate quarantines for smallpox and Spanish influenza.
In 1925, the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a contest to adopt a new flag. The winning design was created by Louise Fluke and featured an Osage shield on a field of blue. The state’s name Oklahoma was added to the flag in 1941.
There are two examples of the original state flag in the collections of the Oklahoma Museum of History. Both flags are made of weighted silk and have suffered degradation from the metallic salts in the silk. The flags have become brittle and frayed. One of the flags had cellophane adhesive tape placed over the frayed areas in a flawed attempt at conservation. This has caused additional damage leaving behind adhesive residue and stains.