Briscoe Center to gain endowment and possibly more from April 9 auction of Revolutionary War flag

Christina Breitbeil

The University’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History will gain an endowment from the Flag Heritage Foundation’s Wednesday auction of a Revolutionary War era American flag, and its directors are also hoping the purchaser will donate the flag to the center to complete its flag collection.

The Forster Flag is currently owned by the Flag Heritage Foundation, which is not affiliated with the University. The flag was originally the centerpiece of the Whitney Smith Flag Research Collection, which was donated to the University without the Forster Flag. According to Lisa Avra, associate director of the Briscoe Center, the Heritage Foundation has decided to auction its flag in order to raise the funds for an endowment to gain a curator for the flag collection.

“As the flag was once on loan to the Whitney Smith Collection, before the collection was donated to the Briscoe Center, we are hoping that the buyer might also donate the flag to the Briscoe Center, where it would once again be the centerpiece of the collection,” Avra said.

Benjamin Wright, a public affairs officer for the Briscoe Center, said obtaining the flag would be an exciting opportunity for the University, as the flag is one of thirty surviving flags from the Revolutionary War era and the only one that has not yet been placed in a museum or institution.

“Everyone at the center is waiting in anticipation to see what happens at the auction,” Wright said. “It’s simply the nature of auctions that anything can happen.”

According to Wright, the Briscoe Center is a likely place for the flag to end up due to its possession of the Whitney Smith Collection, thus making the center an ideal institution to exhibit and study it. Wright called the auction, with proceeds going toward the endowment for curation of the collection, a “baseline scenario,” and said the center is hoping for more.

Maryam Amjadi, Plan II and history freshman, said she appreciates being at UT because it is a large research institution with the ability to access historical artifacts that might otherwise not be available to students.

“Gaining historical artifacts such as the Forster Flag is great because it provides opportunities for research but also preserves important parts of history and makes them available to a huge population of students who can appreciate them,” Amjadi said. “That access is really cool to me as a history major and as someone who generally appreciates preserving our history and culture.”