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Peer insignia

If scholars in Harper Memorial Library’s Great Reading Room happen to glance at the hall’s western wall, they can ponder the seals of eight U.S. universities—Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Michigan, Wisconsin, California, and, of course, Chicago—arranged below the carved injunction “Read not to contradict nor to believe but to weigh and consider” (Francis Bacon). Adorned by leafy canopies and grotesques, the seals flank an iron clock, a gift from the Class of 1909.

The eastern wall sports another frieze, bearing the coats of arms of eight international institutions—Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Bologna, Tokyo, and Calcutta—and the biblical inscription “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”

The screens, installed during Harper’s construction (1910–12), are meant to symbolize the University’s connection to a wider world of knowledge.—A.L.M.

IMAGE:  Peer insignia
Photo by Dan Dry



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