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  #1  
Old 12th July 2018, 12:15 PM
KATM KATM is offline
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Question National Flags for ancestors: use current or historical?

At times it seems fitting to associate a national flag with an ancestor who came from a different country. But which flag to use: the current flag of the ancestor's country (if it has the same or similar boundaries as in the ancestor's time), or the version used when and where the ancestor was living?

I have a mixed ancestry composed of several European countries. One branch has German and Austrian roots. Of course, that branch of ancestors are a brick wall for me, so I haven't been able to confirm where in Germany or Austria they originated. I have some very likely clues that Pauline was born in Prussia, and I was told by a DNA match that her father's surname (Schmida) was Czech. He may have been from a nearby area toward the east between Prague and Prussia, therefore in the Austrian Empire.

For example:
  • Pauline, b. "Germany" 1858 - would the flag of the North German Confederation (tricolor black/white/red bars, no emblem), used during most of her lifetime, be appropriate? She immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1880s. The current German flag is black/red/yellow bars - but where I suspect she was born and lived in Prussia is now part of Poland!
  • Her father, b. "Austria" ca. 1820s - born and lived when the national flag for the Austrian Hapsburg Monarchy was simply one each of black and yellow bars. The current Austrian flag is red/white/red bars, and the Czech Republic flag is white and red bars with a blue triangle at left.
I can't say I obsess over flags for Greece, Ireland, Malta and Switzerland this way, but usually just use the current flag for those countries. Maybe I should be as concerned with "historical accuracy" for these countries' flags, although sometimes there is no change in a national flag from the time when the ancestor lived to the present. I suppose it boils down to knowing one's ancestors' histories accurately, then finding out if a national flag existed for that time.

Does anyone else wonder about using flags that are correct for the time period?
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  #2  
Old 12th July 2018, 01:18 PM
MoberlyDrake MoberlyDrake is offline
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Why bother using them at all? I never came across that practice in any genealogy seminar or book. If you don't use them, you don't have to worry about which flag was used in which region at what date.
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  #3  
Old 12th July 2018, 03:03 PM
KATM KATM is offline
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MoberlyDrake, what you point out is true enough. But, in the past I've made fan charts for my close relatives (see attached example), and it's nice to break down the proportions of ancestry by country, and nice to illustrate the countries with a flag. I suppose a map of a particular country would also work, and with appropriate labeling of nationality/ethnicity, either would be equally as recognizable to the person viewing. I think it would be interesting to have as an illustration for a large family tree chart at a reunion, as well.

I'm just visually oriented, so am interested in these additional ornamentations. It is part of the overall history of the ancestors, too.

example_fan_chart.jpg
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  #4  
Old 12th July 2018, 04:04 PM
Fern Fern is offline
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I wouldn't mix historical flags and current flags - it could be confusing ... unless you labeled the flags or provided a legend, to clarify which was which. And that's likely to give you a messy chart.

As to which era's flag to use, that depends on what you're trying to achieve (and also how interested the recipient is in world affairs and history). If you want to be historically accurate, and the person you're giving the chart to knows how to identify past flags, use the older flag. If you're just trying to say "she came from this part of (modern day) Europe", I'd use the current flag.

A nice idea, BTW Mine would be very boring: all British Empire
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  #5  
Old 12th July 2018, 08:24 PM
Carpathian Carpathian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern View Post
I wouldn't mix historical flags and current flags - it could be confusing ... unless you labeled the flags or provided a legend, to clarify which was which. And that's likely to give you a messy chart.

As to which era's flag to use, that depends on what you're trying to achieve (and also how interested the recipient is in world affairs and history). If you want to be historically accurate, and the person you're giving the chart to knows how to identify past flags, use the older flag. If you're just trying to say "she came from this part of (modern day) Europe", I'd use the current flag.

A nice idea, BTW Mine would be very boring: all British Empire
IMO, it seems that flags are now currently in vogue more than ever, and some like to 'wear their heart upon their sleeve'. Flags are symbols and social signals, often meant to attract others of the same mindset or culture. Flags have served that purpose for many centuries.

Beware the person who feels no need to display any flag. It doesn't mean he or she has no allegiance to a country or a cause. It can mean that he doesn't have any need to reveal or demonstrate to others who he is.
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  #6  
Old 12th July 2018, 08:55 PM
MoberlyDrake MoberlyDrake is offline
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We don't always know how the ancestor would have felt about the flag either. The village in France where my great-grandfather was born had been annexed by Germany and he fled the country to avoid having to serve in the German army when he grew up. I can imagine how he'd feel if I attached the appropriate flag for the period in history when he was born! His birth certificate is written in both French and German.
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  #7  
Old 12th July 2018, 09:48 PM
Biblioteque Biblioteque is offline
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https://culture.pl/en/article/learn-...-in-10-minutes

Because Poland ceased to exist as a nation and vanished from the map for 123 years between 1795-1918, I guess, historically, the Polish people did not have a flag (or a country) for that period in time.

Last edited by Biblioteque; 12th July 2018 at 10:04 PM.
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