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National Geographic Society (U.S.)

Last modified: 2006-01-21 by rick wyatt
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image by Uros Zizmund, 9 December 1997

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The flag is blue over brown over green with white inscription National Geographic Society. The colors symbolize the earth, sea and sky.
Uros Zizmund, 9 December 1997

From the National Geographic site:

The flag of the National Geographic Society has been a symbol of adventure and discovery for most of this century. In addition to flying high at headquarters in Washington, D.C., Society flags have been carried on innumerable expeditions to the far-flung reaches of the globe and beyond.

In 1903 the Society, then 15 years old, finally had a stable financial base and growing membership. The Board of Managers determined that the Society needed its own flag. Editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor and his wife, Elsie (daughter of Alexander Graham Bell), had studied the many flags found around Washington and thought most were too cryptic to be easily identified from a distance.

“In Washington we’d been watching parade after parade with notables...and the flags were so complicated...the bystander from the sidewalk couldn’t tell what it was. Clearly, what the Society needed was a simple and dignified standard, both attractive and instantly recognizable,” recalled Dr. Grosvenor.

Mrs. Grosvenor volunteered to come up with a design. She created the now famous tricolor. The colors, representing sky, earth, and sea, express the wide range of the Geographic’s interests.

The flag first went on assignment with the 1903 Ziegler Polar Expedition to the Arctic. Since then it has been on hundreds of Society expeditions, including treks to both the North and South Poles, the 1935 Explorer II Stratosphere flight, the climb to the summit of Mount Everest with the late Dr. Barry Bishop, and on all of the Apollo missions. Perhaps the flag’s greatest journey was to the moon with Neil Armstrong. Someday it may accompany astronauts to Mars.
James J. Ferrigan III, 9 July 1999