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Flag Societies Around the World

Vexillology (the study of flags) is a comparatively recent addition to the field of knowledge as a separate and distinct discipline. The word is derived from the Latin Vexillum (flag) and the Greek -ology (the study of). Vexillology was first established in an organised form on 1st February 1962, when Dr. Whitney Smith founded the Flag Research Centre in Boston, USA. Since then, flag associations have been established in a steadily growing number of nations.

In 1969, the International Federation of Vexillological Associations was founded as an association of flag groups. It is usually referred to by its French initials: FIAV - Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques. There were initially 12 members, and there are now 53 member entities, including Flags Australia which was admitted in 1985.

The current office bearers of FIAV are:

President: Željko Heimer, Croatia, pres@fiav.org

Secretary-General: Bruce Berry, South Africa, sec.gen@fiav.org

Secretary-General for Congresses: Graham Bartram - UK, sec.cong@fiav.org

FIAV organises an International Congress of Vexillology (ICV) every two years. The 1st ICV was held in the Netherlands in 1965.  Australians have attended every congress since ICV9 in Ottowa in 1981. ICVs are an opportunity for the world's vexillologists to gather to share their interest and knowledge about flags. The ICV is a week-long event that consists of lectures on a diverse range of flag topics, exhibitions, excursions to flag related sites and simply catching up with friends with a shared interest.

icv26 flag

ICV26 was hosted by Flags Australia in Sydney on 31 August - 4 September 2015. A copy of the original website with full details of the event is located at Sydney Flag Congress. Work is progressing on the publication of the Sydney Congress Proceedings.

The most recent flag congress (ICV29) was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia 11 -15 July 2022 and hosted by the Slovenian Vexillology Association (Heraldica Slovenica). ICV29 had been postponed from July 2021 due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions. The meeting was held at the Best Western Premier Hotel Slon, which is near the Old Town. The website is https://www.icv29ljubljana.com/en. As part of the ICV, there was a visit to three city museums with flags, and the 13-meter independence flag was exclusively shown to congress participants. 58 international particpants attending from 27 countries.   

The next flag congress (ICV30) will be held in Beijing, People's Repubic of China on 12 -19 August 2024 and hosted by the Vexillological Research Center of China and The Flag Research Center. The website is http://en.vrcc.org.cn . Registration for the ICV has not yet started.  The Congress venue is the Gengdan Institute of Beijing University of Technology (BGD).  The venue accomodation is in the International Exchange Centre of BGD. The venue is located about 60 km. from the centre of Beijing and 24 km. from Beijing Capital International Airport.  Proposed tours include The National Museum of China (next to Tiananmen Square), Xiannongtan (Temple of Agriculture)and the Forbidden City. The language of the Congress will be English and Chinese. The Australian Government's Smart Traveller advice is that visitors to China should "exercise a high degree of caution in China".

The following ICV31 will be held in Paris, France in 2026. This will be hosted by the Société française de vexillologie.

Flags Australia has, since 1989, sponsored the Vexillon, which is awarded by FIAV to the person regarded as having made the most important contribution to vexillology during the two years between flag congresses. In 2022 the Vexillon was awarded to Roman Klimeš for his vexillological contribution to the Encyclopaedia of Czech Legal History. 

FIAV has recognised the significant contribution to vexillology and service to FIAV of several members of Flags Australia by the award of Fellow of the Federation to:

Ralph Bartlett (2003), Tony Burton (2015), Ted Kaye (2015), Ralph Kelly (2007), Gerald Naughton (2015) and Ron Strachan (2015).

The highest award is that of Laureate of the Federation, based on achieving a flag-related doctorate.  A Flags Australia member, Tracey Mee was made a laureate in 2019 for her thesis Australian national identity: somewhere between the flags? Her thesis is available for download at the University of Wollongong at https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses1/248/

In addition, Ralph Kelly's lecture at ICV21 in Buenos Aires in 2005, on flag changes in Latin American flags, was recognised as Best Paper of that Congress.  This award has been renamed The Whitney Smith Award.


Links to other international flag societies

International Federation of Vexillogical Associations - www.fiav.org


Member societies of FIAV that operate a website in English are:

Bandiere Storiche ["Historical Flags", Italy] - http://bandierestoriche.wix.com/bandiereflags

Bulgarian Heraldry and Vexillology Society - http://heraldika-bg.org/indexEN.htm

The Canadian Flag Association - https://www.facebook.com/Canadian-Flag-Association-LAssociation-Canadienne-de-Vexillologie-317266027131/

Chesapeake Bay Flag Association [US]- cbfa.vexillology.info

Conavex: Corporación Nacional de Vexilología de Chile - https://conavexcl.wordpress.com

Croatian Heraldic and Vexillological Association - www.hgzd.hr/en

Flag Data Centre [Czech] - http://www.vexi.info/svi/indexen.php

Flag Heritage Foundation [US] - www.flagheritagefoundation.org

The Flag Institute [United Kingdom]- www.flaginstitute.org

The Flag Research Center [US]- https://flagresearchcenter.wordpress.com

Flags of the World (FOTW) - www.flagspot.net (also at other mirror locations)

Great Waters Association of Vexillology [US]- gwav.tripod.com

Macedonian Heraldry Society - heraldika.org.mk/en

New England Vexillological Association [US] - http://www.nejv.org

North American Vexillological Association [US and Canada]- www.nava.org

Portland Flag Association [US] - www.portlandflag.org

Russian Centre of Vexillology and Heraldry - http://www.vexillographia.ru/ind_eng.htm

Société française de vexillologie - https://drapeaux-sfv.org/?lang=en

Southern African Vexillological Association - www.savaflags.org.za

State Council of Heraldry at the Parliament of Georgia - http://www.heraldika.ge/?lng=eng

The Ukrainian Heraldry Society - http://uht.org.ua/en/

Vexillological Association of the State of Texas [US] - www.texflags.org

Vexillology Ireland [Ireland] - https://flagsireland.wordpress.com


Other member societies of FIAV that operate websites are:

Centro Italiano Studi Vessillologici - www.cisv.it

Ceská vexilogická spolecnost z.s. - http://www.vexilologie.cz/index2.php?a=000&n=0

CIDEC: Fundación Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Culturales - www.cidecargentina.com

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Flaggenkunde e.V. - www.flaggenkunde.de

Flag Parade Rotterdam Foundation - www.vlaggenparade.nl/?t=2

Heraldica Slovenica [Slovenia] - http://www.heraldica-slovenica.si

Heraldischer Verein "Zum Kleeblatt" von 1888 zu Hannover e.V [Germany] - http://www.zum-kleeblatt.de

Instytut Heraldyczno-Weksylologiczny [Poland] - http://www.albumpolski.pl/IHW_WWW/index.php

Japanese Vexillological Association - https://www.j-flags-java.org

Kevarzhe Vannielouriezh Vreizh [Brittany] - www.drapeauxbretagne.canalblog.com

Nederlandse Vereniging voor Vlaggenkunde - www.vlaggenkunde.nl

Nordisk Flaggselskap [Scandinavia] - www.nordicflagsociety.org

Partioheraldikot r.y. [Finland] - heraldikot.partio.net

Polskie Towarzystwo Weksylogniczne - www.weksylologia.pl

Sociedad Española de Vexilogia [Spain] - www.vexilologia.org

Swiss Society of Vexillology - www.vexilla.ch





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Material Copyright to the Flag Society of Australia Inc and Pennant Advisory Services Pty Limited. Text and illustrations by Ralph Kelly. Web Design by Elizabeth Kelly of ELK Prints.