Georgia State Flag (c. 1902 - c. 1920s)
Georgia State Flag
(c. 1902 - c. 1920s)
In 1902, Georgia’s General Assembly enacted legislation stipulating that Georgia’s coat of arms (i.e., the interior section of the state seal that shows the arch) be incorporated on the vertical blue band of the state flag. However, in their 1904 volume, The Story of Georgia, Katharine Massey and Laura Wood include a color plate showing the design above as Georgia’s state flag. Rather than Georgia’s coat of arms being placed on the blue band, the coat of arms is shown on a gold-outlined white shield, with the date “1799” shown below the arms. Additionally, without any statutory authorization, a red ribbon with “Georgia” was added below the shield on the blue background.
Exactly who was responsible for these departures from the 1902 statute—and when—is not known, but clearly by 1904, this was accepted as Georgia’s state flag. And, in fact, several copies of this flag survive today attesting to its use. Interestingly, despite the addition of the shield, date, and red ribbon, the flag clearly demonstrates that that Georgia’s coat of arms was not synonymous with the state seal.
A color postcard showing Georgia’s exhibition hall at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907 incorporates the identical shield design, further evidence that this design had quickly become accepted as Georgia’s coat of arms.
In 1914, the General Assembly changed the date on Georgia’s state seal from 1799 (the year the seal was adopted) to 1776 (the year of independence). It is not known whether the date on the above flag subsequently was changed. Sometime in the 1920s, however, Georgia state flags began appearing with the state seal rather than the coat of arms on a white and gold shield. Once again, the change came without official authorization of the legislature, and there is no record of who directed the change or exactly when it took place.