Tag Archives: Whitney Smith

Whitney Smith Flag Research Collection Donation

July 14, 2014

The Flag Heritage Foundation has given $250,000 to establish the Whitney Smith Flag Research Collection at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. This Collection has as its nucleus the matchless library of Dr. Whitney Smith’s legendary Flag Research Center in Winchester, Massachusetts, which with the Foundation’s help was transferred to the University on Dr. Smith’s retirement and is now publicly available to scholars for the first time. It is hoped and expected that the Collection, in its new home at Austin, will develop into a world center for research into flags, symbolic expression, and state and political symbolism, and will attract further donations of research material by scholars and collectors in the years to come.

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Forster Flag sold

The Flag Heritage Foundation sold the Forster Flag in April 2014, and is applying the proceeds of the sale to fund the Flag Heritage Fund at the University of Texas. This gift will allow the Flag Research Center’s vast collection of books, pamphlets, files, papers and documentation about flags, their history and meaning to find a permanent home at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University’s flagship campus in Austin. This collection, assembled over many decades by Dr. Whitney Smith, the foremost scholar in the field, is the greatest of its kind in the world, and we hope and expect that it will form the nucleus of a great public center for study and scholarship.

Information about the development of the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Library at the University of Texas, and about the Flag Heritage Fund, will be posted here as circumstances warrant.

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Article about the history of the Foundation

The following article, “An Introduction to the Flag Heritage Foundation,” was written by Dr. Whitney Smith, the world’s foremost authority on flags.  It was published in the September-October 2002 issue of The Flag Bulletin (FB #207), and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Flag Research Center, the copyright owner.

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The Flag Heritage Foundation

The Flag Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to the knowledge, preservation and study of flags.   For more about us, see Who We Are.

Flags have been documented as a vehicle of human expression for at least 1000 years, and there is evidence of widespread use even before that.  They communicate information about nationality, locality, belief, identity, organization, rank, and much more.  Although there are exceptions, the basic elements of flag communication are color and line; words are secondary and ordinarily detract from a flag’s expressive power.

The number and uses of flags have so multiplied that it has long been impossible to list them all, or to collect all the designs in a book (or even a website, although Flags of the World makes a good attempt).  But this very multiplicity of design and use makes flags a mirror of culture.  Knowledge of flags helps us understand the world, and enriches studies in many fields including history, art history, art and design, political science, geography, semiotics, social psychology, cultural anthropology, heraldry, textile studies, and regional studies of all regions.

The formal study of flags is called vexillology, a …
» Continue Reading: The Flag Heritage Foundation

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Flags and Uniforms of the Oxford College Rowing Societies

This reproduces an undated pamphlet published in London in the 1830s. The illustrations are in roughly their original size; in the original they were connected side-to-side in accordion format. The original from which the reprint was made was found in the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Collection at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The reprint was released by the Foundation on August 31, 2015, at the 26th International Congress of Vexillology in Sydney, Australia, to publicize the transfer of Dr. Whitney Smith’s great collection to the University and to celebrate the opening of his famous files to scholars. A finding list for the files may be seen at tinyurl.com/whitneyfiles. The reprinted pamphlet contains some additional information about the collection, and about the Oxford rowing societies, and may be read, printed or downloaded here. Some printed copies are still available; to receive one please apply here. Single copies are free within the United States, and will be sent abroad for the cost of postage.

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The Forster Flag

Until April 2014, the Forster Flag was the most valuable and historically significant item in the Foundation’s collection.

It is said to be the oldest known American flag (that is, a flag intentionally designed and used to symbolize the country), and the oldest to use 13 red and white stripes for this purpose. It was carried by the Minutemen when they were called out on April 19, 1775, for the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Of the 30 authentic colors still surviving that were carried by American troops during the Revolutionary War, the Forster Flag is the only one not in a public museum or institution.  It remained in the family of Samuel Forster for 200 years, from 1775 until it was acquired by the Foundation in 1975.

The image above is a reconstruction.  For a photograph of the actual flag, please click here.

The Flag Heritage Foundation sold the Forster Flag in April 2014, and is applying the proceeds of the sale to fund the Flag Heritage Fund at the University of Texas. This gift will allow the Flag Research Center’s vast collection of books, pamphlets, files, papers and documentation about flags, their history …
» Continue Reading: The Forster Flag

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About the Forster Flag

The articles in this section were written by Dr. Whitney Smith, the world’s foremost authority on flags.  They were published in the May-June 2002 issue of The Flag Bulletin (FB #205), and are reprinted here with the kind permission of the Flag Research Center, the copyright owner.

Download the PDF

View PDF in Google Docs

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