LIFE photo editor Liz Ronk and writer Eliza Berman looked through their archives, writing with clear-eyed hindsight of LIFE's Truman-era collection of Confederate flag photos.
The flag appeared on clothes, novelty items, and even as car decorations (much to the chagrin of purists).
The magazine made some guesses about why the flag was having a resurgence in 1951:
Some interpreted all this as an anti-Truman gesture, others possibly more intellectual as a revival of interest in state's rights. Most people, however, recognized a fad when they saw one.
In retrospect, it seems more of a response to political changes on the horizon.
• When the Confederate Flag Seemed Like a Mere Fad (via LIFE)