Monday, March 18, 2013

The Many Faces of Minerva

Minerva has been with the university almost since its inception, but her image has undergone many transformations during her tenure as UNCG's representative goddess.  The first extant image appears on an 1894 diploma.  Indeed, many of the very early images we have of Minerva come from diplomas bearing the university seal.
The next seal, from 1897, not only reflects the change from "School" to "College," but also shows a completely different image of Minerva.  By the time the school's name changed again in 1919 to the North Carolina College for Women, Minerva had once again transformed, and unfortunately it wasn't her best image.  When the name changed again, it was no more kind to Minerva than the previous version.

The 1937 seal shows another revision of Minerva's image. Around this same period, yet another image of Minerva appeared concurrently, but on different forms of media.  A strong departure from the previous seals altogether, this seal from the 1943 Bulletin of Courses shows perhaps a more artful version of Minerva.
This seal was used on the letterhead during the period of the "Consolidated University".  A time when the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (also known as Woman's College of the University of North Carolina) were governed together as a system.

The origin of many of the seals is unclear. Changes might be attributable to style of the time, name change requiring a new seal, type of object upon which the seal was placed, or even (lack of) talent of the artist.

Letter from Bill Friday explaining need for new seals -note the letterhead using the "1943" Bulletin seal posted above
Official seal adopted 1963/1964

In 1963, when the university's name changed to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an official seal was created to adorn diplomas and official documents and it has a face very familiar to those who have had a connection with UNCG's recent history.  Never a cause for concern before the university was to become coeducational in 1963 and admitted it's first male students for the fall semester of 1964, suddenly even Minerva's gender was challenged.  Helen P. Yoder, administrative assistant to Chancellor Singletary, said, "Some people thought Minerva looked too much like a woman" and Hoyt Price, long-time Registrar (1960-1987) agreed that one objective of the 1963 redesign was to make Minerva, "less feminine."*

This is just a small sampling of the many, many different images of Minerva from the Archives.  Please take a look at our online exhibit featuring even more diverse images of our goddess!
(*quotes from "Today on Campus" Oct. 2, 1983)

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