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Subject: Flag


From: Evelyn Frangakis <efrangak>
Date: Monday, July 9, 2001
USDA Research Helps Preserve Historic Flag

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
July 3, 2001
Jim Core, 301-504-1619, jcore [at] ars__usda__gov

As the nation prepares to celebrate its 225th birthday tomorrow,
Agricultural Research Service wool experts can take pride in knowing
they helped the Smithsonian Institution gain additional insight into
a national treasure, the flag that inspired the "Star-Spangled

The flag's fiber and dyes have degraded over the years, despite
careful treatment by various handlers. Constant exposure to light,
temperature fluctuations and humidity have deteriorated the
150-pound wool flag, its cotton stars and linen backing.

Scientists William N. Marmer, Jeanette M. Cardamone and colleagues
at USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Wyndmoor, Pa., worked
with the Star-Spangled Banner Preservation Project to assess the
flag's deterioration using high-tech equipment at the Wyndmoor lab.
They collaborated with the project's chief conservator, Suzanne
Thomassen-Krauss, of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum
of American History.

The researchers, based in the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center's
Hides, Lipids and Wool Research Unit, offer unique expertise in this
area. They are the only federal researchers working on the
utilization of domestic wool. The unit is responsible for developing
and patenting new technology for bleaching and dyeing wool, as well
as technology to monitor those processes.

Cardamone's team examined fabric structure without touching the
actual flag. They used Digital Image Analysis for Fabric Assessment
(DIAFA) to analyze these images and comparative images. From the
digital images, they developed a mathematical procedure to determine
yarn spacing and thickness without damaging delicate areas of the
actual flag.

Cardamone says their methods are designed to give characterizations
of the flag's fabric and are less tedious than traditional
techniques. ERRC scientists can now present findings based on their
methods to the Smithsonian's textile conservators, who may apply the
technique to the Star-Spangled Banner when deciding what
preservation methods to employ.

The 30- by 34-foot flag has been in the Smithsonian's collection
since 1907. The museum built a special conservation laboratory to
accommodate the flag, which was moved there in 1999 as part of the
three-year restoration project to better care for, exhibit and store

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific
research agency. You can also get the latest ARS news at

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:10
                   Distributed: Monday, July 9, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-10-008
Received on Monday, 9 July, 2001

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