Original Key Manuscript on Display at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine During Star-Spangled 200th

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Date: September 10, 2014
Contact: Fort McHenry Press, 410-962-4290 ext. 886

BALTIMORE –While Americans hear the lyrics of Francis Scott Key's 1814 song in advance of nearly every event, his original handwritten manuscript can be seen at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine through September 14 in the park's Visitor Center, courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.

On the morning of September 14, 1814, aboard a truce ship three miles away from the fort, Francis Scott Key anxiously peered through the smoke, which lingered over the harbor following the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry. Inspired by the sight of the 15 stars and stripes deliberately waving over the fort, Key penned the words that later became America's national anthem.

"We are grateful to have this celebrated document on loan during our bicentennial," said Park Superintendent, Tina Cappetta. "To Baltimoreans, the defense of Fort McHenry is a revered moment in our city's history and through partnerships with organizations like the Maryland Historical Society, we are able to honor the sacrifices and triumphs of our predecessors."

"The Maryland Historical Society has been the proud curator of the Key manuscript since 1953," said President, Burt Kummerow. The manuscript remained in one family until it was purchased by Henry Walters in 1907. The Walters Art Gallery then purchased it from the Walters Estate in 1934. Two decades later, Mrs. Thomas Courtney Jenkins purchased the document from the gallery for $26,400 and provided additional funding for its display at the historical society. It has since been the most viewed exhibit in the society's museum.

"In 1815 the city of Baltimore went to great lengths to commemorate the legacy of its defenders," said Kummerow. "Two hundred years later, when the fireworks are over, the speeches have ended, and the reenactors have left, we hope that our efforts will leave a great legacy with the city."

Fort McHenry is hosting a weeklong series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem. Star Spangled Spectacular, a free festival sponsored by Star-Spangled 200, Inc. and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission is hosting a variety of bicentennial activities at other venues throughout Baltimore, including, the Inner Harbor, Martin State Airport and Pier Six Pavilion. For additional information on these and other events, visit www.starspangled200.com

About Fort McHenry National Monument &Historic Shrine

During the Battle of Baltimore, September 13–14, 1814, the valiant defense of the star-shaped Fort McHenry against the might of the British navy inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." The 15 broad stripes and 15 bright stars still fly over the fort 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most famous as the birthplace of our National Anthem, the fort was used continuously in a variety of ways through World War II. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FtMcHenryNPS and on Twitter, @FtMcHenryNPS.

About Maryland Historical Society
Founded in 1844, The Maryland Historical Society Museum and Library occupies an entire city block in the Mount Vernon district of Baltimore. The society's mission is to "collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland's diverse cultural heritage." The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner and publishes a quarterly titled "Maryland Historical Magazine." Visit www.mdhs.org. 

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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