Heraldry of Harvard University

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Variant of the Harvard seal

Harvard University adopted an official seal soon after it was founded in 1636 and named "Harvard College" in 1638; a variant is still used.

Each school within the university (Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, etc.) has its own distinctive shield as well, as do many other internal administrative units such as the Harvard College residential "Houses" and the Harvard Library. Many extracurricular organizations‍—‌such as clubs, societies and athletic teams‍—‌have their own shield as well, often based on the coat of arms of Harvard itself.

Harvard University coat of arms

Harvard University logo with the shield of arms at left
The shield of arms displayed on the Harvard Shuttle, 2014


The Harvard University coat of arms, or shield, has a field of the color "Harvard Crimson" and, in the foreground, has three open books with the word VERITAS (Latin for "truth") inscribed across them. This shield provides the basis for the shields of Harvard University's various schools.


The Harvard Board of Overseers originally designed the shield during meetings in December 1643 and January 1644. However, the design was forgotten until rediscovered by University President Josiah Quincy and revealed in the bicentennial celebrations of 1836. In 1843, the Harvard Corporation officially adopted it as a seal, and the seal in use today is very similar.[1]


  1. ^ "History | Harvard University". Harvard University. Retrieved 2015-11-24.


  • Hammond, Mason (July 1981). "A Harvard Armory: Part I". Harvard Library Bulletin. XXIX (3): 261–297.
  • Hammond, Mason (October 1981). "A Harvard Armory: Part II". Harvard Library Bulletin. XXIX (4): 361–402.
  • Hammond, Mason (Summer 1986). "A Harvard Armory: Part III". Harvard Library Bulletin. XXXIV (3): 251–293.
  • Hammond, Mason (Summer 1987). "Official Terms in Latin and English for Harvard College or University". Harvard Library Bulletin. XXXV (3): 294–310.
  • Harvard University. Corporation. Seals, 1650-[1926]. UAI 15.1310, Harvard University Archives.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (September 1933). "Harvard Seals and Arms". Harvard Graduates' Magazine. 42.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1936). "Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century. Part I": 11.
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1995). "The Founding of Harvard College": 3, 193, 325, 328–30.
  • Rosenmeier, Jesper (January 1968). "Veritas: The Sealing of the Promise". Harvard Library Bulletin. XVI (1): 26–37.
  • Spindle, Robert B. (May–June 1996). "02138. Arms and the (10,000) men". Harvard Magazine. Vol. 98 no. 5. Letter to the editor.
  • Bethell, John T. (March–April 1996). "Variations on a Theme". Harvard Magazine. Vol. 98 no. 4.
  • Williams, George Huntston (2014). Divinings: Religion at Harvard: From Its Origins in New England Ecclesiastical History to the 175th Anniversary of The Harvard Divinity School, 1636–1992. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 82. ISBN 978-3-525-55056-4.

External links

  • Seal of approval, May 14, 2015, Harvard Gazette
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