Answered By: David Cort
Last Updated: Apr 15, 2016     Views: 60

In brief:

The image of "VE-RI-TAS" written across three books was adopted as the College seal at a meeting of the governors of the College on the 27th of December, 1643. A crude sketch of the seal/shield survives in the records of that meeting. This adoption had little practical effect for the next two centuries, as the seal was unused and forgotten until discovered by the President of the University, Josiah Quincy, and used during the bicentennial celebration. With his support, the seal was re-adopted by the Corporation in 1845. But not for long - Quincy's successor, Edward Everett, moved successfully to change the official seal back to a version which had been used since 1692, one which employed the motto, "CHRISTO ET ECCLESIÆ" but not VERITAS. It was not until 1885 that a seal which included the three books and VERITAS was re-re-adopted, thanks in part to the proselytizing efforts of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Since then, VERITAS has appeared, in some form, on the offical seal.

 

               See: Harvard University. Corporation. Seals, 1650-[1926]: an inventory

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