AB magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1961; Master of Arts, Boston University, 1962; Doctor of Philosophy, Boston University, 1968.
The term vexillology, which he originated in his 1958 article Flags of the Arab World, refers to the scholarly analysis of all aspects of flags. The following year, Smith established The Flag Research Center which was located in Winchester, Massachusetts for 45 years. Smith retired from publishing The Flag Bulletin in 2011.
He transferred the Center"s library and archives in 2013 to The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
The Flag Research Center was transferred to The Trust for Vexillology, a non-profit corporation that supports the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center at the Briscoe Center. Smith was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on February 26, 1940.
He received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University. He was instructor and assistant professor of political science at Boston University from 1964 to 1970.
Smith worked with Klaes Sierksma to organize the First International Congress of Vexillology (Muiderberg, Netherlands) in 1965.
They joined Louis Mühlemann in founding the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques or International Federation of Vexillological Associations (known by its acronym FIAV), which was formally inaugurated in 1969. Smith was also responsible for founding the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) in 1967. He is a Secretary-General Emeritus of FIAV and the President Emeritis of NAVA. Smith has written 27 books on the subject of flags, 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 and has served as a vexillographer (flag designer) to a number of governments and organizations.
In 1981, Smith was part of a committee who developed the flag of Bonaire. Smith is a Laureate and a Fellow of FIAV, a Whitney Smith Fellow of NAVA (an honor named for him), a Fellow of The Flag Institute, and a Fellow of the Vexillological Association of the State of Texas.
Member International Federation Vexillological Associations (secretary-general 1969-1991, Laureate 1991), North America Vexillological Association (president 1967-1977, William Driver award 1983, Whitney award 1992).
Married Ann Ley Montgomery, September 9, 1962 (divorced 1976). Children: Adrian, Austin. Married Vicki Peterson, May 5, 1991.