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HIST 100 Stuff: Objects and Their (Hi)Stories (Spring 2023)

Context Matters

Coat of Arms of the College of William &Mary
From standing exhibit, William & Mary Special Collections Research Center (SCRC)

In the Special Collections at William & Mary, there is a standing exhibit relating to the school's history. Among the items are display are royal documents featuring a special seal. The seal, in various forms, has been the official coat of arms of the college since 1694.

Image: First Seal of The College of William and Mary. Shows building that do not appear on campus.

Image: Second Seal of The College of William and Mary. Shows a temple, which is not on campus.

Image: Third Seal of the College, colorized. Shows buildings that do not appear on campus.



  • Why does the Seal look nothing like campus?
  • Who made the seal, when, and why?
  • Why had the college seal changed, then reverted, over time?
  • What is the larger importance of the seal?