Mary Young Pickersgill

Kim Hanley as Mary PickersgillPortrayed by Kim Hanley

In 1813 Mary Pickersgill made the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 and which is Francis Scott Key saw in the “dawn’s early light”, inspiring him to write the words that would become the United States’ National Anthem.  That very same Flag is still in existence, and remains one of our Nation’s most important and beloved artifacts, viewed my millions of visitors every year at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

The story of the Star-Spangled Banner begins with a statement attributed to Major George Armistead, Commandant of Fort McHenry, made in July 1813, to the Commander of Baltimore defenses. General Samuel Smith: “We, sir, are ready at Fort McHenry to defend Baltimore against invading by the enemy . . . except that we have no suitable ensign to display over the Star Fort, and it is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.”  Mrs. Pickersgill actually made two flags for Major Armistead that Summer, one smaller foul weather flag measuring 17′ x 25′ and the very large 42′ x 30′ fair weather banner which is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution today.

In her later years Mary Young Pickersgill became a great supporter of humanitarian causes in Baltimore, particularly those dealing with indigent widows.  Named after Mary, its early board president, Pickersgill Retirement community continues to help senior citizens in need.

Kim Hanley, an actor, singer, costumer and dancer, trained and danced from an early age with the School of American Ballet and the Eglevsky Ballet in New York, as well as with the visiting Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bill Hastings and Chet Walker. Ms. Hanley is also an accomplished costumer whose specialty is historical fashion. She includes among her bigger clients The Philly Phanatic. Kim’s academic training includes a BFA in Restoration and History of Applied Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York.

Kim began interpreting Abigail with AHT in 1997.  Ms. Hanley has appeared in venues that include the White House Visitors Center, National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Frazier Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Institute, Liberty Museum, Constitution Center, Independence Visitors Center, Freedoms Foundation, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, Delaware Humanities Chautauqua and libraries throughout New Jersey and the greater Philadelphia area.