How Has the Yale University Logo Changed Since Its Inception

Yale University

Yale University has undergone a series of changes in the last 300 years. Today, it continues to evolve, accomplishing numerous milestones, and establishing new traditions along the way. In the fall of 2009, the university discontinued its well-known logo designed by Paul Rand back in 1985 and replaced it with a different yet simpler design.

Yale University logo

This was a shock for many. The university logo is used to embody Yale’s identity. It creates confidence and retains the official mark of Yale. The goal to modify the old 1985 version was to ensure that the change of logos will still retain the impact of the university and serve as an official mark with a modernized design. But, this is not the first change of logos.

If you want to know more about how Yale changed its emblems throughout history, you’ve come to the right place. We compiled all the necessary information that will definitely come in handy. But first, let’s start from the beginning.

University Yale’s Origins

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With roots tracing to the 1640s, Yale has a rich history. Back when the colonist priests led all the efforts to establish a college in the local area and teach the traditions of European liberal education, they erected a Collegiate School.

The idea was to use a teaching system that’s reminiscent of the principles and traditions used in renowned medieval European universities, including the academies of Rome and Greece. But, it wasn’t until 1701 that their efforts paid off, and the Connecticut legislature was adopted, giving them an opportunity to open a school.

In 1718, this center officially became Yale College in honor of Elihu Yale, who donated exactly 417 books, including a portrait of King George I.

The Type of Emblems Used

Every university has its own emblem. Yale is no exception. But, since Yale opened its doors on October 9, 1701, its university logo changed multiple times. The first Yale seal was completely different from what it is today. In the 1700s, all freshmen who studied the ancient Biblical texts also had to study Hebrew. As a result, the Yale seal featured a Hebrew phrase on the first diploma awarded in 1702.

Yale diplom 1702

Yale Seal – 1702 first diploma

However, from 1918 to 1948, under the guidance of Carl Purington Rollins, the books were completely redesigned. This was an ambitious occasion, probably inspiring the university to continue its efforts and create a new university logo. One that will feature their dedication and influence. That’s where they opted for a unique style, yet a design that respects their ancient traditions.

Yale University Logo 1918

Yale University Logo: 1918

In 1985, professor Paul Rand, an acclaimed and respected graphic designer, created a distinctive new design for the university. It featured the word Yale and incorporated a completely unique element to it, which was different from any style used before. Although the design had numerous critics and was untraditional, it became a memorable component of Yale University.

Yale University Logo: 1985

Now the new logo seems to resonate more with the traditional design. It is quite similar to the one used in 1918. Although it has more color and definition, it seems to be well-received.

Yale University Logo 2009

Yale University Logo: 2009


Yale is known for altering its logos and giving them a completely new design. But, regardless of the mark they bear, the university is still recognized as one of the best options for music and drama lessons. They may change their logo, but the quality of their studies remains the same.