Whitney Smith

Whitney Smith

Smith in 2007

Smith in 2007
Born (1940-02-26)February 26, 1940
Arlington, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died November 17, 2016(2016-11-17) (aged 76)
Peabody, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Citizenship US
Occupation Vexillologist
Years active 1961–2013
Organization The Flag Research Center
Known for
Notable work The Flag Bulletin, The Flag Book of the United States, and Flags Through the Ages and Across the World

Whitney Smith Jr. (February 26, 1940 November 17, 2016) was a professional vexillologist and scholar of flags. He originated the term vexillology, which refers to the scholarly analysis of all aspects of flags.[1] He was a founder of several vexillology organizations. Smith was a Laureate and a Fellow of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations.


Smith designed the proposal for the flag of Guyana which, after modification and addition of black and white, was adopted in 1966. It is also known as The Golden Arrowhead.
Smith also designed this flag as a proposed flag of Antarctica. Antarctica has no government or sovereign ruler and the flag has not been adopted in an official capacity by any organization.

In 1961, Smith and colleague Gerhard Grahl cofounded The Flag Bulletin[2] (ISSN 0015-3370), the world's first journal about flags. The following year, Smith established The Flag Research Center and was its director.[3]

Smith worked with Klaes Sierksma to organize the First International Congress of Vexillology (Muiderberg, Netherlands) in 1965. They joined Louis Mühlemann in founding the International League of Vexillologists and were members of its Governing Board on September 5, 1965, and operated until September 3, 1967. The league was replaced by the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (known by its French acronym FIAV) with Smith as vice-president of the Provisional Council as of September 3, 1967. In 1969, Smith moved from being FIAV Provisional Council vice-president to being the first Secretary-General of FIAV.[4] Smith was also responsible for founding the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA)[3] and the Flag Heritage Foundation.[1] On August 28, 1981, he was elected the second Secretary-General for Congresses, ending his multiple terms as FIAV Secretary-General. Smith served in that office until he returned to the FIAV Secretary-General position on September 29, 1983.[4]

On July 5, 1991, Smith was named by the FIAV a Laureate of the Federation[5] and left the office of FIAV Secretary-General.[4] He was give the honor of Fellow of the Federation on July 27, 2001.[6] He transferred The Flag Research Center's library and archives in 2013 to The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.[3] On November 17, 2016, Smith died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 76.[7][8]


Smith wrote 27 books on the subject of flags,[3] notably Flags Through the Ages and Across the World, The Flag Book of the United States, and Flag Lore of all Nations. Smith was the designer of the national flag of Guyana[3] and served as a vexillographer (flag designer) to a number of governments and organizations. In 1981, Smith was part of a committee that developed the flag of Bonaire. Smith also wrote over 250 articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica.[3][2]

See also


  1. 1 2 VanderMey, Anne (April 3, 2014). "This American Revolutionary War flag is up for auction. Guess how much it will sell for?". Fortune. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Pletcher, Kenneth (June 14, 2011). "Flags of the World: 5 Questions for Vexillologist Whitney Smith". Britannica.com. Britannica. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Briscoe Center Acquires World-Class Flag History Collection: Vast archive preserves life work of Whitney Smith" (Press release). Austin, Texas: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. October 15, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 "Former Officers". FIAV.org. International Federation of Vexillological Associations. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  5. "Laureates of the Federation". International Federation of Vexillological Associations. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  6. "Fellows of the Federation". fiav.org. International Federation of Vexillological Associations. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  7. "The Flag Research Center Announcement". November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  8. Grimes, William (22 November 2016). "Whitney Smith, Whose Passion for Flags Became a Career, Dies at 76". The New York Times. p. A25.
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