The late Robert G. Heft—the man credited with designing the 50-star American flag—was a 17-year-old boy fulfilling a class assignment when he came up with the winning design. The Illustrated America: Old Glory is a new book that features 50 American flag designs submitted by U.S. citizens to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that incorporated Hawaii and Alaska as the 49th and 50th states.
“Old Glory excavates a long-forgotten, yet fascinating chapter from America’s vexillographic history,” said Los Angeles–based publisher Atelier Éditions. The book’s updated renderings of original submitted designs, drawn from plates held in the Eisenhower Presidential Library’s archive, used a lithographic four-color process that represents the era’s printing methods.
“From the first year of the Eisenhower administration the public had anticipated that Alaska and Hawaii might be added as new states and that a new flag design would be needed,” the library explained in a history of the bureaucratic design selection process on its website.
The earliest 50-star flag design submission came in 1953, and by the time that the official design was chosen, more than 3,000 people had sent in their ideas. “The designs came in a wide range of media from simple pencil sketches to professionally constructed flags,” the library said. “This was an especially popular project for elementary school children who expressed their ideas with construction paper, crayons, tempera paint and tiny stick-on stars.”