“The Rockets’ Red Glare”:
Francis Scott Key and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry
In this lesson, students have examined the bombardment of Fort McHenry and the creation and history of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Those interested in learning more, will find much useful information on the web.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Fort McHenry’s website contains a wealth of material on the fort, on the battle, on the defenders, and on the composing of the national anthem. It also includes a Teacher's Guide with lesson plans, bibliography and teacher evaluation, and curriculum-based lesson plans for Grades 4 and 8.
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, National Park Service
This website highlights a number of places associated with the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812, with special emphasis on the events leading up to the writing of the national anthem.
Heritage Education Services, National Park Service
The Teaching with Historic Places website contains more than 135 curriculum-based lesson plans on places listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It includes lessons on other important American icons, including Independence Hall: International Symbol of Freedom; The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon; and The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone.
National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service
The “Fort McHenry” National Register registration form is available online. Students interested in more information on the fortifications themselves and how they changed over time can find a detailed history of the fort in this form. It also includes a useful glossary of the old, fascinating terms used for various elements of forts and fortifications.
National Park Service Travel Itineraries
The Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary for Baltimore includes, among other historic sites in the city, Fort McHenry and the Flag House, the home of Mary Pickersgill, who designed and fabricated the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
The National Register of Historic Places online itinerary Places Reflecting America’s Diverse Cultures highlights the historic places and stories of America’s diverse cultural heritage. This itinerary seeks to share the contributions various peoples have made in creating American culture and history.
U. S. Army Center of Military History
This website contains the chapter on the War of 1812 in The United States Army and the Forging of a Nation, 1775-1917, Volume 1 of American Military History, published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History in 2004. Clearly and engagingly written, it includes a detailed account of the origin and conduct of the war, and the forces affecting its outcome.
Smithsonian Institution, The Star-Spangled Banner
This website is tied to the original Star-Spangled Banner, on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington. It includes information on the War of 1812, the national anthem, and the restored flag that flew over Fort McHenry. It also provides a variety of lesson plans for primary through middle school students and bibliographies for both general and young readers.
Maryland Historical Society, Star-Spangled Banner Sheet Music Collection
This online exhibit includes the earliest extant manuscript version of Key’s poem, one of only two known copies of its earliest printing, and a great deal of other printed and manuscript material relating to the song.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
This website highlights the Baltimore home and place of business of Mary Pickersgill, maker of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem. The house is a National Historic Landmark and offers living history, special events, and a variety of educational programs.
Library of Congress, A Guide to the War of 1812
This website identifies and links to digital materials related to the War of 1812 that are available elsewhere on the Library of Congress website. In addition, it provides links to external websites focusing on the War of 1812 and a bibliography containing selections for both general and younger readers.
Library of Congress, American Memory
This website contains one of only five copies of the first setting of Key’s words to music as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
This website contains extensive documentation for Fort McHenry, including maps and photographs.
James Madison Center, War of 1812
This website contains information on the war at sea and in the northwest.
For further reading
The Star-Spangled Banner: The Making of an American Icon was written by Lonn Taylor, Kathleen M. Kendrick, and Jeffrey L. Brodie (New York: HarperCollins, for the Smithsonian Institution, 2008) on the occasion of the re-opening of the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in 2008. It brings together a wealth of historical information on the War of 1812, on the Battle of Baltimore, and on Francis Scott Key and the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in one beautifully illustrated volume. It also discusses the later history of the anthem and the flag, including the recent restoration of the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814.