Great Seal Awareness Project

Promoting Great Seal Awareness in Communities

The United States Diplomacy Center created a wonderful Exhibition Celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the Great Seal (2007). On their web page you can download any of the exhibit's ten panels and reproduce them for classroom use. (Below are Panels 4 and 5.)

A trifold brochure of the exhibit is also available (PDF - 500 Kb).

U.S. Diplomacy Center exhibit panels 4 and 5
Panels 4 and 5 of the U.S. Diplomacy Center's ten-panel exhibit.

To supplement the Diplomacy Center Exhibit, the
Great Seal Awareness Project (GSAP) created two more panels

GSAP supplementary panels 11 and 12

Download GSAP's two supplementary panels (11x14"):
  Panel 11: Imagining the Possibilities (PDF - 800 Kb)
  Panel 12: Rising to the Challenge (PDF - 800 Kb)

If your community, school, or organization would like to display
the Great Seal Exhibit or other educational materials,
please contact GSAP coordinator Ron Cole.

In 2003, the U.S. State Department produced an excellent
18-page pamphlet on the history the Great Seal (PDF - 3 Mb).

The best reference book is The Eagle and the Shield: A History of the Great Seal of the United States. Its chapters about the three preliminary designs offer a wealth of information that will suggest some fascinating areas for classrooms to explore.

This extremely well-documented book by Richard S. Patterson and Richardson Dougall was released in 1978 by the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, Department of State, under the auspices of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. (681 pages, 92 illustrations)

Used copies are available, and a paperback reprint was published in 2005 (by University Press of the Pacific). You could also borrow it with an interlibrary loan.

The comprehensive website
is based on The Eagle and the Shield.

What's So Great About the Great Seal?

A cornerstone in the foundation of the United States, our Great Seal is a national treasure in the same league with our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

Designed by some of America's most visionary Founders during the revolutionary birth of our nation, the Great Seal is the carefully crafted message they created to convey their vision to the world, and to the future.

As our nation's vision statement, its two sides embody the essential guiding principles these farsighted patriots knew the United States must always follow.

So important was the Great Seal that on Day One – July 4, 1776 – Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to begin the design process that would later involve two other committees.

Considerable attention went into creating the Great Seal. Unfortunately, most historians and educators have overlooked this extraordinary symbol. Consequently, myth and misinformation are commonplace, and the eloquent symbolism of the Great Seal is not fully appreciated.

It is time to rediscover our nation's forgotten treasure, the Great Seal of the United States, by telling Americans the fascinating story of this emblem that represents them.

As a graphic link to the vision of our nation's Founders, the Great Seal reconnects us with the revolutionary spirit of the people who gave us our freedom. Their struggle for independence is reflected in the Seal's preliminary designs that evolved into the two-sided symbol approved by Congress on June 20, 1782.

This is not just about the past, however. By knowing what the Great Seal's symbols and mottoes meant to the Founders, students will be able to decipher this remarkable message from their ancestors and discover its relevance today.

When the full story of the Great Seal is known, it becomes a compelling incentive to participate in America's future.

The Great Seal Awareness Project is not affiliated with, nor are these statements intended to represent the views or policies of the United States Diplomacy Center or Department of State.