Mooresville Public Library

Mooresville Public Library
MPL Courtyard

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Paul Hadley, Designer of the Indiana State Flag (1916, adopted 1917) and Mooresvillian

2014 UPDATE:  Click the links below to read two excellent biographies of Paul Hadley:


  • Hardin, Becky, The Indiana State Flag: Its Designer (Biography of Paul Hadley with Anthology of his Paintings), p. 22 (1976)


  • Perry, Rachel Berenson.  “Paul Hadley and the Indiana Flag.”Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 15:1 (Indiana Historical Society, Winter 2003): 20-29; “Paul Hadley, Indiana State Flag Designer.”  Indiana Magazine (Indiana Dept. of Commerce, Nov. 1977): 24-25; MPL biographical handout.





"Paul Hadley looks on as Ralph E. Priest, a student at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, applies gold leaf to an Indiana state flag, circa 1923. When faculty and students at Herron learned that no state flag was on display in the Hoosier capital, they created the one seen here and presented it to the state. The Indiana Historical Bureau now safeguards the flag." [Photo and caption excerpted from Perry, Rachel Berenson. "Paul Hadley: Artist and Designer of the Indiana Flag," Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. 15(1), 20-29 (2003)].

Paul Hadley's Indiana state flag (see B/W photo above)
now stored at the Indiana State Library
by the Indiana Historical Bureau
(Photo by Cheryl Dobbs, December 2013)





Modest ... Soft-spoken … Dignified … Witty … These descriptions of longtime Mooresville resident Paul Hadley, designer of the Indiana State Flag, reflected the community and state in which he was raised. Born in Indianapolis on Aug. 6, 1880, Paul was one of four sons of Dr. Evan Hadley, M.D., and Ella Quinn Hadley. He switched from Indianapolis (later called Shortridge) High School to Manual Training High School to study art under Otto Stark, one of the famous Hoosier Group of impressionist painters. Paul then studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts & the PA Museum & Industrial Arts School. He first specialized in stained glass and interior designs, working for Philadelphia and Chicago firms. Paul helped design the Kennebunkport, Maine residence of Hoosier writer Booth Tarkington. Paul was named “most popular artist” at the 1922 Indiana State Fair. He did not drive a car; instead, he hiked cross-country to paint the scenic views. His ability to capture the essence of his subjects was matched by superb use of color and realism, softened with impressionistic tones.


Out of 200 proposals, Paul’s design for the Indiana State Banner (changed to Flag in 1955) was selected in the state’s 1916 Centennial Celebration, and the Indiana General Assembly adopted it in 1917. The flag’s flaming torch and six radiating beams from the torch symbolized the expansion of liberty and enlightenment. The 13 stars represent the original 13 U.S. states; the five inner stars represent the next five states admitted to the Union. Indiana is the largest star atop the torch.


As an art instructor at the Herron School of Art (1922-1933), he specialized in watercolors and outdoor sketches. Paul became Assistant Curator of the Art Association (1935-36). He travelled the country, capturing distinctively local scenes that defined mid-20th century Hoosier and American culture. He lived in Mooresville, Plainfield, and, finally, Richmond, IN, where he died on Jan. 31, 1971.

2016 UPDATE:  Watch these biographical videos to learn more about Paul Hadley.

Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part One, by MPL


Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part Two, by MPL


Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part Three, by MPL


Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part Four, by MPL


Paul Hadley Biographical Video, Part Five, by MPL

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