Mary Pickersgill
Mary Pickersgill and her household sewing the Star-Spangled Banner Flag in the summer of 1813.

NPS/Gerry Embleton

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Based on the book: The Biggest (and Best) Flag That Ever Flew by Rebecca Jones. Centreville, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1988. ISBN: 0-87033-440-9

Young Caroline Pickersgill lives with her mother and grandmother in Baltimore, Maryland. Mrs. Pickersgill, a widow, supports herself and her daughter by making flags for the ships that sail into the city. Some soldiers from Fort McHenry come to her to order the biggest and best flag in the world, and Caroline helps to make it. When the British sail up the Chesapeake Bay to destroy Baltimore during the War of 1812, the defenders at the fort beat them back. After the British sail away the next day, the flag gallantly streaming over the fort is the one Caroline and her mother had sewn. "By the dawn's early light," Francis Scott Key saw it waving "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

 Grade Level: 4 

Duration: 1-2 class periods 

Economic Concepts: Goods & Services, Specialization, and Interdependence 

Objectives: Students will be able to… 
  • describe the contributions of Mary Pickersgill to Maryland history. 
  • describe the goods and services available in early 19th Century Baltimore.
  • analyze the interdependence of early 19th Century Baltimore.

Additional Resources

Developed by the Maryland Council on Economic Education through partnership and funding from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of MD & DE


War of 1812, Women's History
National/State Standards:
Economic Concepts: Goods & Services, Specialization, and Interdependence
Star-Spangled Banner Flag, baltimore, fort ward, Chesapeake Bay, war of 1812

Last updated: February 26, 2015