Christmas Postcards: Chicago 1917

Illinois's flag from 1915-1969

Most of my vintage Christmas postcards bear extremely short messages and this one is no exception:

Best wishes to you for a Merry Christmas”

What I found most interesting is the slogan postmark. Sent from Chicago, Illinois, at 11:00 the on Christmas Eve morning, some ten months following the United States’ entry into World War I and just over two weeks after the nation declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 7, the cancellation reads:

Food will win the war. Don’t waste it.

The design on the picture side is another embossed one, featuring two poinsettias and a framed image of a snow-covered church and home along with the simple inscription, “Best Christmas Wishes.”

I like to include appropriate flags with my postcard and stamp articles at, at first glance, you might recognize the one above as the State Flag of Illinois. This is, however, a previous version, including the central elements of the State Seal which had been adopted in 1868 and not including the word ILLINOIS. The original version of the flag was adopted in 1915 as the result of a campaign started by Ella Park Lawrence in 1912. She had been unsuccessful as state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution but continued to lobby members of the Illinois General Assembly. On April 1, 1914, Lawrence sent a letter to every Illinois chapter of the DAR announcing a flag design contest with the winner receiving a prize of $25. Thirty-five entries were received with that of Lucy Derwent becoming the official state banner on July 6, 1915.

Illinois Centennial flag, 1918

Illinois Centennial flag, 1918

This flag was replaced in 1918 with a design by Wallace Rice to mark Illinois’s first 100 years of statehood. This flag had three horizontal bands of equal width alternating white, blue, white. It was charged with 21 stars along the edge of the hoist. There were 10 blue stars in the upper white band and 10 in the lower white band, representing the 10 northern and 10 southern states at the time of Illinois’ statehood in 1818. The center blue band had one large, white star for the state of Illinois itself.

 In the 1960s, Chief Petty Officer Bruce McDaniel petitioned to have the name of the state added to the flag. He noted that many of the people he served with during the Vietnam War did not recognize the banner. Governor Richard B. Ogilvie signed the addition to the flag into law on September 17, 1969, and the new flag was designed by Mrs. Sanford Hutchinson and became the official flag on July 1, 1970.


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