Betsy Ross Exhibition at Winterthur

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on October 6, 2010

From the Winterthur website:

Betsy Ross: The Life behind the Legend
Winterthur Museum, Delaware, 2 October 2010 — 2 January 2011

(Henry Holt & Co., 2010) $30, ISBN: 978-0-8050-8297-5

Both iconic and controversial, Betsy Ross is one of the best known figures of the American Revolutionary era—and also the least understood. The story of Betsy Ross and the making of the first American flag was introduced to public audiences by her grandson William Canby in 1870, at a talk before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The legend that grew cast Betsy as a simple seamstress honored by an unexpected chance to contribute to the independence movement. But the real Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole (1752–1836) would not have recognized the Betsy Ross of popular historical imagination.

Among the early flagmakers of the rebellion, Ross also fabricated cartridge cases for American soldiers and was among the most important professional flagmakers of the new republic. She labored for more than five decades as an upholsterer, crafting chair cases and covers and curtains and blinds as well as fabricating thousands of yards of fringe and tassels.

Co-curated by Marla Miller (University of Massachusetts) and Winterthur’s Linda Eaton and Katie Knowles, this exhibition reveals the life and work of this celebrated flagmaker and upholsterer and looks at how the legend began.

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