Italicized links open a new window to an external site

Click here to display our home page

Lesson Ideas
Warm-up Activities
Is That A Fact?

Did Betsy Ross make the 1st U.S. flag?

I asked my students to find evidence regarding Betsy Ross and the first U.S. flag; and to cite its source using a format sheet I provided.  Here is the evidence I found.  Each source is cited using the format I asked for.

  1. "Ross, Betsy 1752-1836 née Griscom reputed maker of 1st Am. flag"
  2. Title: Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth edition
    Publisher: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
    Publication date: 1993
    page(s): 1431

  3. "Ross, Betsy Griscom, 1752-1836, maker of the first U.S. flag"
  4. Title: Random House Webster’s College Dictionary
    Publisher: Random House
    Publication date: 1996
    page(s): 1170

  5. "re·put·ed  adj. 1. Generally supposed to be such."
  6. "Ross, Betsy Griscom . 1752-1836 1. American seamstress who, according to tradition, made the first American flag (June 1776) at the request of George Washington."

    Title: The American Heritage Talking Dictionary, version 4.0
    Publisher: Softkey International
    Publication date: 1995
    Topic found: Ross

  7. Who Designed the Flag? No one knows for certain. Francis Hopkinson, designer of a naval flag, declared he also had designed the flag and in 1781 asked Congress to reimburse him for his services. Congress did not do so. Dumas Malone of Columbia University wrote: "This talented man . . . designed the American flag."
  8. The Betsy Ross Legend. The widely publicized legend that Mrs. Betsy Ross made the first Stars and Stripes in June 1776, at the request of a committee composed of George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, an uncle, was first made public in 1870, by a grandson of Mrs. Ross. Historians have been unable to find a historical record of such a meeting or committee.

    Title: The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2000
    Publisher: World Almanac Books
    Publication date: 1999
    page(s): 550

  9. "Ross, Betsy née GRISCOM (b. Jan. 1, 1752, Philadelphia, Pa. [U.S.]--d. Jan. 30, 1836, Philadelphia), seamstress who, according to legend, fashioned the first flag of the United States.

    As a young girl in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Griscom showed considerable aptitude for fine needlework. She married John Ross in 1773, worked with him in his upholsterer's shop, and carried on the business after he was killed in 1776 while serving in the militia.

    According to her grandson, William Canby, in a paper presented in 1870, Betsy Ross was visited in June 1776 by George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, her late husband's uncle. The story is that they asked her to make a flag for the new nation that would declare its independence the following month. A rough sketch presented to her was redrawn by Washington incorporating her suggestions. Betsy Ross then fashioned the flag in her back parlour--again, according to the legend. It is known that Ross made flags for the navy of Pennsylvania, but there is no firm evidence in support of the popular story about the national flag. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States."
  10. Title: Encyclopædia Britannica CD 99, Multimedia Edition
    Publisher: Encyclopædia Britannica
    Publication date: 1998
    Topic found: Ross, Betsy

  11. "No one knows with absolute certainty who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it. Congressman Francis Hopkinson seems most likely to have designed it, and few historians believe that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first one. "

(note: the above page is now located at
Viewing date: January 18, 2000

search engine URL:
search criterion specified: history of the American flag
total number of hits returned: 76,300
search date: January 18, 2000
total number of hits returned: 34,400,000
search date: July 26, 2009

return to the Is That A Fact? page

return to the Warm-up activities page

return to the Lesson Ideas page

copyright © 2000-2009 All Rights Reserved.
original web posting: Tuesday, February 22, 2000
last modified: Sunday, July 26, 2009