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The Kentucky State Flag

Kentucky’s State flag was authorized on March 26, 1918. The 1918 act specified that the flag be made of

" blue silk or bunting, with the seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky encircled by a wreath of goldenrod, embroidered, printed or stamped on the center thereof."

Dimensions of the flag were not specified but were allowed to vary.

Evidently, the law was not specific enough to produce a satisfactory flag, but it wasn’t until 1962 that this was remedied.

Camp Zachary Taylor
Camp Zachary Taylor: General View

In 1917, the U.S. War Department selected Louisville as the site for a huge military camp. Camp Zachary Taylor, a training camp for soldiers heading off to the Great War (World War I), opened 90 days later. It was one of sixteen national army camps in the U.S. Camp Zachary Taylor trained over 125,000 men during World War I. It was closed in 1920, after the war.

The first State flag was made in 1920 for a ceremony at Camp Zachary before the property was sold. Nobody was pleased with the flag and, after the ceremony, a committee was formed to review it and offer suggestions for improvement. Unfortunately, the work of the committee was lost or forgotten on its way to the Governor for his approval. The Camp Zachary flag eventually ended up in the custody of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort. It was several years before the issue of a State flag was addressed again.

Governor Flem D. Sampson was sworn in as Governor of Kentucky in 1927. The forgotten State flag was required for another military ceremony.

Without reference to the early committee work, the Secretary of the Kentucky Historical Society, Jouett Cannon commissioned Frankfort art teacher, Jesse Cox Burgess to provide the design work from which a State flag could be fashioned. Three flags were made from Burgess’ ink and oil artwork by a Philadelphia company. Only two of these flags ever made it back to Frankfort however. The other was lost during use in a Chicago ceremony.

Kentucky state flag

In 1961, Kentucky Adjutant General, Major Taylor L. Davidson launched a project to codify a specific design for Kentucky’s flag. In the interest of finalizing the flag design, research was completed on the history and design of the earlier State flags and artist Harold Collins produced three color designs that were presented to Governor Bert T. Combs for his approval.

Once Governor Combs had selected a design, a template was created and a detailed bill was drawn up by Major Davidson for introduction in the Kentucky Legislature. To eliminate future uncertainties about the design, detailed drawings were included with the bill.

In 1962, these amendments to the 1918 law were adopted by the Kentucky Legislature, going into effect on June 14, 1962.

State Representative Brent Yonts of Greenville introduced House Bill No. 743 in 1998 to

"Amend KRS 2.030 to permit, rather than require, that the emblem of a Kentucky cardinal be at the head of a flagstaff used to display the state flag."

The amendment changed the word "shall" in 2.030, section 3, was changed to "may."

House Bill No. 743 died in committee.

The Kentucky State flag, longer than other State flags, displays a rendition of the Seal of the Commonwealth centered on a field of blue.

Kentucky Flag Law

The following information was excerpted from the Kentucky Code, Title 1, Chapter 4.

Source: Kentucky Legislature, Kentucky Revised Statutes, , August 12, 2007.
Source: The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Kentucky's State Flag, , August 12, 2007.
Source: Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society, Camp Zachary Taylor, , August 12, 2007.
Source: Flags of the Fifty States and Their Incredible Histories: The Complete Guide to America's Most Powerful Symbols by Randy Howe. The Lyons Press; First edition edition (November 1, 2002).
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols: A Historical Guide Third Edition, Revised and Expanded by Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer. Greenwood Press; 3 Sub edition (October 30, 2001).
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle. Reprint Services Corp; Revised edition (June 1971).

Additional Information

Kentucky's State Flag: from The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.

Kentucky (U.S.): FOTW "Flags of the World" Web Site.

State Flags: Complete list of state flags with links to large pictures and images suitable for coloring.

Flag Terminology: The parts of a flag and terms associated with its design.

Visit Our Flag Shop: Purchase all kinds of flags and banners, lapel pins, 50 state flag sets, decals, patches, college banners at the Flag Shop.

Flags of the Fifty States and their Incredible Histories: A complete guide to America's most powerful symbols by Randy Howe.

How Proudly They Wave: Flags of the Fifty States: This book, by Rita D. Haban, is geared toward younger readers.



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