History of the flags of the United States

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A 2.00m x 1.70m oil painting showing historical U.S. flags..

This article describes the evolution of the flag of the United States of America, as well as other flags used within the country, such as the flags of governmental agencies. There are also separate flags for embassies and boats.

National flag[edit]

Historical progression of designs[edit]

Since 1818, a star for each new state has been added to the flag on the Fourth of July immediately following each state's admission. In years which multiple states were admitted, the number of stars on the flag jumped correspondingly; the most pronounced example of this is 1890, when five states were admitted within the span of a single year (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington in November 1889 and Idaho on July 3, 1890). This change has typically been the only change made with each revision of the flag since 1777, with the exception of changes in 1795 and 1818, which increased the number of stripes to 15 and then returned it to 13, respectively.

As the exact pattern of stars was not specified prior to 1912, and the exact colors not specified prior to 1934, many of the historical U.S. national flags shown below are typical rather than official designs.

 1775–1777 (the "Grand Union Flag")
1775–1777 (the "Grand Union Flag")
 1777–1795
1777–1795
 1795–1818 (the "Star-Spangled Banner")
1795–1818 (the "Star-Spangled Banner")
 1818–1819
1818–1819
 1819–1820
1819–1820
 1820–1822
1820–1822
 1822–1836 ("Old Glory")
1822–1836 ("Old Glory")
 1836–1837
1836–1837
 1837–1845
1837–1845
 1845–1846
1845–1846
 1846–1847
1846–1847
 1847–1848
1847–1848
 1848–1851
1848–1851
 1851–1858
1851–1858
 1858–1859
1858–1859
 1859–1861
1859–1861
 1861–1863
1861–1863
 1863–1865
1863–1865
 1865–1867
1865–1867
 1867–1877
1867–1877
 1877–1890
1877–1890
 1890–1891
1890–1891
 1891–1896
1891–1896
 1896–1908
1896–1908
 1908–1912
1908–1912
 1912–1959
1912–1959
 1959–1960
1959–1960
 1960–present
1960–present

Other historical versions[edit]

 Betsy Ross circular 13-star version
Betsy Ross circular 13-star version
 1777-1795 (the "Hopkinson Flag")
1777-1795 (the "Hopkinson Flag")
 Battle of Bennington version
Battle of Bennington version

Possible future designs[edit]

 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 51 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 51 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 51 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 51 stars
 United States 51-star flag (proposed by New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico)
United States 51-star flag (proposed by New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico)
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 52 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 52 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 52 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 52 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 53 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 53 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 54 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 54 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 55 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 55 stars
 A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 96 stars
A draft proposal for the flag design displaying 96 stars

Executive branch flags[edit]

Office of the President[edit]

 Flag of the President
Flag of the President
 Flag of the Executive Office of the President
Flag of the Executive Office of the President
 Flag of the Trade Representative
Flag of the Trade Representative

Office of the Vice President[edit]

 Flag of the Vice President
Flag of the Vice President

Department of State[edit]

 Flag of the Department of State
Flag of the Department of State
 Flag of the Secretary of State
Flag of the Secretary of State
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of State
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of State
 Flag of United States ambassadors
Flag of United States ambassadors
 Flag of a Consular officer
Flag of a Consular officer
 Flag of a Foreign Service officer
Flag of a Foreign Service officer

Department of the Treasury[edit]

 Flag of the Department of the Treasury
Flag of the Department of the Treasury
 Flag of the Secretary of the Treasury
Flag of the Secretary of the Treasury
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
 Flag of an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
Flag of an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
 Flag of an Under Secretary of the Treasury
Flag of an Under Secretary of the Treasury
 Flag of the Comptroller of the Currency
Flag of the Comptroller of the Currency

Department of Defense[edit]

 Flag of the Secretary of Defense
Flag of the Secretary of Defense
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Defense
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Defense
 Flag of the National Security Agency
Flag of the National Security Agency
 Flag of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Flag of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Department of Justice[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Justice
Flag of the Department of Justice
 Flag of the Attorney General
Flag of the Attorney General
 Flag of the Associate Attorney General
Flag of the Associate Attorney General
 Flag of the Solicitor General
Flag of the Solicitor General
 Flag of an Assistant Attorney General
Flag of an Assistant Attorney General
 Flag of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Flag of the Drug Enforcement Administration
 Flag of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Flag of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
 Flag of the Marshals Service
Flag of the Marshals Service
 Flag of the Marshals Service
Flag of the Marshals Service
 Flag of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Flag of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
 Flag of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Flag of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Department of the Interior[edit]

 Flag of the Department of the Interior
Flag of the Department of the Interior
 Flag of the Secretary of the Interior
Flag of the Secretary of the Interior
 Flag of the National Park Service
Flag of the National Park Service
 Guidon of the National Park Service
Guidon of the National Park Service
 Flag of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Flag of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
 Flag of the Fish and Wildlife Service
Flag of the Fish and Wildlife Service
 Flag of the Bureau of Land Management
Flag of the Bureau of Land Management
 Flag of the Geological Survey
Flag of the Geological Survey

Department of Agriculture[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Agriculture
Flag of the Department of Agriculture
 Flag of the Secretary of Agriculture
Flag of the Secretary of Agriculture
 Flag of the Forest Service
Flag of the Forest Service

Department of Commerce[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Commerce
Flag of the Department of Commerce
 Flag of the Secretary of Commerce
Flag of the Secretary of Commerce
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce
 Flag of the General Counsel of the Department of Commerce
Flag of the General Counsel of the Department of Commerce
 Flag of the Head of a Department of Commerce Primary Operating Unit
Flag of the Head of a Department of Commerce Primary Operating Unit
 Flag of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Flag of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Department of Labor[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Labor
Flag of the Department of Labor
 Flag of the Secretary of Labor
Flag of the Secretary of Labor

Department of Health and Human Services[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Health and Human Services
Flag of the Department of Health and Human Services
 Flag of the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Flag of the Secretary of Health and Human Services
 Flag of the Public Health Service
Flag of the Public Health Service
 Flag of the Surgeon General
Flag of the Surgeon General

Department of Housing and Urban Development[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Flag of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of Transportation[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Transportation
Flag of the Department of Transportation
 Flag of the Secretary of Transportation
Flag of the Secretary of Transportation
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Transportation
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Transportation
 Flag of an Assistant Secretary of Transportation
Flag of an Assistant Secretary of Transportation
 Flag of the Federal Aviation Administration
Flag of the Federal Aviation Administration
 Flag of the Maritime Administration
Flag of the Maritime Administration

Department of Energy[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Energy
Flag of the Department of Energy
 Flag of the Secretary of Energy
Flag of the Secretary of Energy

Department of Education[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Education
Flag of the Department of Education
 Flag of the Secretary of Education
Flag of the Secretary of Education

Department of Veterans Affairs[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Flag of the Department of Veterans Affairs
 Flag of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Flag of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs
 Flag of the Director of the National Cemetery System
Flag of the Director of the National Cemetery System
 Flag of an Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Flag of an Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Department of Homeland Security[edit]

 Flag of the Department of Homeland Security
Flag of the Department of Homeland Security
 Flag of the Secretary of Homeland Security
Flag of the Secretary of Homeland Security
 Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
Flag of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
 Flag of Customs and Border Protection
Flag of Customs and Border Protection
 Flag of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Flag of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
 Flag of the Border Patrol
Flag of the Border Patrol
 Flag of the Secret Service
Flag of the Secret Service

Other federal flags[edit]

Many agencies, departments, and offices of the U.S. federal government have their own flags, guidons, or standards. Following traditional American vexillology, these usually consist of the agency's departmental seal on a blank opaque background, but not always.

 Flag of the National Reconnaissance Office
Flag of the National Reconnaissance Office
 Flag of the Central Intelligence Agency
Flag of the Central Intelligence Agency
 Flag of the Environmental Protection Agency
Flag of the Environmental Protection Agency
 Flag of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Flag of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
 Flag of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Flag of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Flag of the Peace Corps
Flag of the Peace Corps
Flag of the Library of Congress
Flag of the Library of Congress
Flag of the Tennessee Valley Authority
Flag of the Tennessee Valley Authority
Flag of the Government Accountability Office
Flag of the Government Accountability Office
 Flag of the Federal Trade Commission
Flag of the Federal Trade Commission
 Flag of the National Science Foundation
Flag of the National Science Foundation
 Flag of the Smithsonian Institution
Flag of the Smithsonian Institution
 Flag of the House of Representatives
Flag of the House of Representatives
 Flag of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
Flag of the Speaker of the House of Representatives
 Flag of the Senate
Flag of the Senate
 Flag of the Federal Reserve System
Flag of the Federal Reserve System
 Flag of the Senior Executive Service
Flag of the Senior Executive Service
 Flag of the Social Security Administration
Flag of the Social Security Administration
 Flag of the Capitol Police
Flag of the Capitol Police
 Flag of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Flag of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau
 Flag of the Defense Commissary Agency
Flag of the Defense Commissary Agency

Uniformed services flags[edit]

Army[edit]

 Flag of the Army
Flag of the Army
 Flag of the Secretary of the Army
Flag of the Secretary of the Army
 Flag of the Under Secretary of the Army
Flag of the Under Secretary of the Army
 Flag of the Chief of Staff of the Army
Flag of the Chief of Staff of the Army
 Flag of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
Flag of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
 Flag of the Surgeon General of the Army
Flag of the Surgeon General of the Army
 Flag of an Army general
Flag of an Army general
 Flag of an Army lieutenant general
Flag of an Army lieutenant general
 Flag of an Army major general
Flag of an Army major general
 Flag of an Army brigadier general
Flag of an Army brigadier general
 Flag of the 29th Infantry Division
Flag of the 29th Infantry Division

Marine Corps[edit]

 Flag of the Marine Corps
Flag of the Marine Corps
 Flag of the Commandant of the Marine Corps
Flag of the Commandant of the Marine Corps
 Flag of a Marine Corps general
Flag of a Marine Corps general
 Flag of a Marine Corps lieutenant general
Flag of a Marine Corps lieutenant general
 Flag of a Marine Corps major general
Flag of a Marine Corps major general
 Flag of a Marine Corps brigadier general
Flag of a Marine Corps brigadier general

Navy[edit]

 Flag of the Navy
Flag of the Navy
 Flag of the Secretary of the Navy
Flag of the Secretary of the Navy
 Flag of the Under Secretary of the Navy
Flag of the Under Secretary of the Navy
 Flag of the Chief of Naval Operations
Flag of the Chief of Naval Operations
 Flag of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Flag of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations
 Flag of a Navy admiral
Flag of a Navy admiral
 Flag of a Navy vice admiral
Flag of a Navy vice admiral
 Flag of a Navy rear admiral
Flag of a Navy rear admiral
 Flag of a Navy rear admiral (lower half)
Flag of a Navy rear admiral (lower half)

Air Force[edit]

 Flag of the Air Force
Flag of the Air Force
 Flag of the Secretary of the Air Force
Flag of the Secretary of the Air Force
 Flag of the Under Secretary of the Air Force
Flag of the Under Secretary of the Air Force
 Flag of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Flag of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force
 Flag of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Flag of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force
 Flag of an Air Force general
Flag of an Air Force general
 Flag of an Air Force lieutenant general
Flag of an Air Force lieutenant general
 Flag of an Air Force major general
Flag of an Air Force major general
 Flag of an Air Force brigadier general
Flag of an Air Force brigadier general

Coast Guard[edit]

 Flag of the Coast Guard
Flag of the Coast Guard
 Guidon of the Coast Guard
Guidon of the Coast Guard
 Flag of the Coast Guard Auxiliary
Flag of the Coast Guard Auxiliary
 Flag of the Commandant of the Coast Guard
Flag of the Commandant of the Coast Guard
 Flag of the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard
Flag of the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard
 Flag of a Coast Guard admiral
Flag of a Coast Guard admiral
 Flag of a Coast Guard vice admiral
Flag of a Coast Guard vice admiral
 Flag of a Coast Guard rear admiral
Flag of a Coast Guard rear admiral
 Flag of a Coast Guard rear admiral (lower half)
Flag of a Coast Guard rear admiral (lower half)

NOAA Officer Corps[edit]

 Flag of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps
Flag of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps

State flags[edit]

Territorial and commonwealth flags[edit]

 Puerto Rico (territory with commonwealth status)
Puerto Rico (territory with commonwealth status)
 Guam (territory)
Guam (territory)
 American Samoa (territory)
American Samoa (territory)
 U.S. Virgin Islands (territory)
U.S. Virgin Islands (territory)
 Northern Mariana Islands (commonwealth in political union)
Northern Mariana Islands (commonwealth in political union)
 District of Columbia (federal district)
District of Columbia (federal district)

Uninhabited territory flags[edit]

The U.S. national flag is the official flag for all islands, atolls, and reefs composing the United States Minor Outlying Islands. However, unofficial flags are in use on five of these nine insular areas:

 Johnston Atoll
Johnston Atoll
 Midway Atoll
Midway Atoll
 Navassa Island
Navassa Island
 Palmyra Atoll
Palmyra Atoll
 Wake Island
Wake Island

Associated state flags[edit]

While the countries mentioned are recognized independent nations with UN seats, the U.S. maintains and exercises jurisdictional control over the countries in defense, security, and funding grants.

 Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
 Micronesia
Micronesia
 Palau
Palau

County flags[edit]

Municipal organizations[edit]

Flag of the Los Angeles County Fire Department
Flag of the Los Angeles County Fire Department
Flag of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Flag of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

City flags[edit]

Municipal organizations[edit]

Flag of the Los Angeles Police Department
Flag of the Los Angeles Police Department
Flag of the New York City Police Department
Flag of the New York City Police Department
Flag of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Flag of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

Maritime flags[edit]

Ensigns[edit]

National[edit]

Since 1777, the national ensign of the United States has also simultaneously served as its national flag. The current version is shown below; for previous versions, please see the section Historical progression of designs above.

 Ensign of the United States (1960-present)
Ensign of the United States (1960-present)
 Grand Union Flag (naval ensign, 1775–1777)
Grand Union Flag (naval ensign, 1775–1777)
 Civil Ensign (circa 1776)
Civil Ensign (circa 1776)

State[edit]

Naval and Maritime Flag of Massachusetts
Naval and Maritime Flag of Massachusetts
Merchant and Marine Flag of Maine
Merchant and Marine Flag of Maine

Other[edit]

 Ensign of the Coast Guard
Ensign of the Coast Guard
Ensign of the Power Squadrons
Ensign of the Power Squadrons
Yacht ensign
Yacht ensign
Jacks[edit]
 Union Jack (state jack, 2002–present; naval and state jack, 1960–2002)
Union Jack (state jack, 2002–present; naval and state jack, 1960–2002)
 First Navy Jack (naval jack, 2002–present)
First Navy Jack (naval jack, 2002–present)
 Naval Jack (circa 1776)
Naval Jack (circa 1776)

Native American tribal flags[edit]

 Flag of the Arapaho
Flag of the Arapaho
 Flag of the Cherokee Nation
Flag of the Cherokee Nation
 Flag of the Sac and Fox
Flag of the Sac and Fox

Historical flags[edit]

American Revolutionary War[edit]

 Cowpens flag
Cowpens flag
 Bennington flag
Bennington flag
 Betsy Ross flag
Betsy Ross flag
 Brandywine flag
Brandywine flag
 Grand Union Flag
Grand Union Flag
 Easton Flag
Easton Flag
 Bedford Flag (1775)
Bedford Flag (1775)
 Bunker Hill flag
Bunker Hill flag
 Guilford Courthouse flag
Guilford Courthouse flag
 George Rogers Clark Flag
George Rogers Clark Flag
 Flag of New England
Flag of New England
 Serapis flag
Serapis flag
 Gadsden Flag
Gadsden Flag
 Moultrie Liberty Flag
Moultrie Liberty Flag

Former federal flags[edit]

 Flag of the President (1899)
Flag of the President (1899)
 Flag of the President (1902)
Flag of the President (1902)
 Flag of the President (1916)
Flag of the President (1916)
 Flag of the President (1945)
Flag of the President (1945)
 Flag of the Vice President (1915)
Flag of the Vice President (1915)
 Flag of the Vice President (1936)
Flag of the Vice President (1936)
 Flag of the Vice President (1948)
Flag of the Vice President (1948)
 Flag of the Vice President (1975)
Flag of the Vice President (1975)
 Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1899-1970)
Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1899-1970)
 Flag of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (until 2003)
Flag of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (until 2003)
 Flag of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (until 2003)
Flag of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (until 2003)
 Flag of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Flag of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
 Flag of the Department of the Interior (until 1917)
Flag of the Department of the Interior (until 1917)
 Flag of the Secretary of the Interior (1917-1934)
Flag of the Secretary of the Interior (1917-1934)
 Infantry Battalion flag (de facto flag of the U.S. Navy until 1959)
Infantry Battalion flag (de facto flag of the U.S. Navy until 1959)
 Flag of the Secretary of Labor (1915-1960)
Flag of the Secretary of Labor (1915-1960)
 Flag of the Department of Labor (1915-1960)
Flag of the Department of Labor (1915-1960)
 Flag of the Secretary of the Treasury (1887-1915)
Flag of the Secretary of the Treasury (1887-1915)
 Flag of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
Flag of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
 Flag of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
Flag of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
 Flag of the Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
Flag of the Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
 Flag of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
Flag of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
 Flag of the Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service
Flag of the Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service
 Flag of the Marine Hospital Service
Flag of the Marine Hospital Service
 Flag of the Bureau of Navigation (1838-1946) ( ? -1946)
Flag of the Bureau of Navigation (1838-1946) ( ? -1946)
 Flag of the Director of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation ( ? -1946)
Flag of the Director of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation ( ? -1946)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1799)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1799)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1815)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1815)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1836)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1836)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1841)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1841)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1867)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1867)
 Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1868)
Ensign of the Revenue-Marine (1868)
 Ensign of the Coast Guard (1915-1953)
Ensign of the Coast Guard (1915-1953)
 Flag of the Coast Guard Auxiliary (1940-1968)
Flag of the Coast Guard Auxiliary (1940-1968)
 Flag of the Office of Homeland Security (2001-2002)
Flag of the Office of Homeland Security (2001-2002)
 Flag of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency
Flag of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency
 Flag of the General Accounting Office
Flag of the General Accounting Office
 Boat flag (1912-1916)
Boat flag (1912-1916)
 Flag of U.S. Forces – Iraq (2010-2011)
Flag of U.S. Forces – Iraq (2010-2011)
 Flag of the United States Bureau of Fisheries ( ? -1940)
Flag of the United States Bureau of Fisheries ( ? -1940)
 Flag of the Commissioner of Fisheries ( ? -1940)
Flag of the Commissioner of Fisheries ( ? -1940)
 Pennant of theUnited States Life-Saving Service( ? -1915)
Pennant of the
United States Life-Saving Service
( ? -1915)
 Pennant of the United States Lighthouse Service( ? -1939)
Pennant of the United States Lighthouse Service
( ? -1939)
 Flag of the Commissioner of Lighthouses( ? -1939)
Flag of the Commissioner of Lighthouses
( ? -1939)
 Flag of the Superintendent of Lighthouses( ? -1939)
Flag of the Superintendent of Lighthouses
( ? -1939)
 Flag of the Marine Corps(1914-1939)
Flag of the Marine Corps
(1914-1939)
 Fort Sumter Flag (1861)
Fort Sumter Flag (1861)
 Flag of the Department of Transportation (1967-1980)
Flag of the Department of Transportation (1967-1980)

Other states[edit]

 Flag of the Green Mountain Boys, the Vermont Republic (1777-1791), and the state of Vermont (1791-1804)
Flag of the Green Mountain Boys, the Vermont Republic (1777-1791), and the state of Vermont (1791-1804)
 Texas Come and Take It flag
Texas Come and Take It flag
 Flag of the California Republic
Flag of the California Republic
 Flag of the Republic of West Florida (1810)
Flag of the Republic of West Florida (1810)
 Flag of the State of Muskogee (1797-1803)
Flag of the State of Muskogee (1797-1803)
 J.P Gillis Flag (California)
J.P Gillis Flag (California)
 Alamo flag (Texas)
Alamo flag (Texas)
 Flag of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Flag of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]