United States Diplomacy Center

The Great Seal of the United States: Celebrating 225 years

USDC marked the 225th anniversary of the Great Seal of the United States in 2007 by creating a traveling exhibit on the history and current use of the Great Seal.  The Department of State is the custodian and operator of our nation's symbol today.

The traveling exhibit was on view at the following venues:  Independence Visitor Center, Philadelphia, PA (August 2010 - December 2011); Independence Living History Center, Philadelphia, PA (September 2009 - July 31, 2010); Harriton House, Bryn Mawr, PA (March 17 – September 16, 2009); George C. Marshall Foundation, Lexington, VA (May 28, 2008 – March 1, 2009); and the Department of State Exhibit Hall, Washington, DC (December 20, 2007 – May 5, 2008).

View the Exhibit Brochure

View a Department of State booklet on the Great Seal

Take a Great Seal quiz

PDF versions of the traveling exhibit are available below with printing instructions.  Please contact the USDC Senior Curator with additional questions.

 

Printing These Posters

Links below each poster on this page enable you to preview a full-sized version of the poster as well as to download a print-quality full-sized poster in PDF format.  A text-only version of each poster is also available as a link beneath each thumbnail poster.

All materials in this exhibition are in the public domain and can be reproduced without permission. Citation of this source is appreciated.

Printing Handouts

The materials from this exhibition are also available to download and print in 8 1/2"x11" format, as a single, multi-page PDF file [40.53Mb].  Individual posters with higher res option available below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the 225th Anniversary
Of the Great Seal:

Past, Present and Future

Great Seal Exhibition: Great Seal above line drawing of mechanism for imprinting the seal

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   Download Full-Sized Print [6.5 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-Only Version

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Seal: Symbol and Identity
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The Great Seal: Symbol and Identity. The Great Seal done in embroidery on a red background and various ancient seals and a manual imprinting device.

   Preview Full-Sized Print [479.5 kb]
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   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

 

Seals and Symbols
In the American Colonies

Images of early seals used in the American colonies.

   Preview Full-Sized Print [1.57 Mb]
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   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

Creating the Great Seal
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Images of early designs for the Great Seal and paintings of people involved in the design

   Preview Full-Sized Print [776 kb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [17.7 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

Symbols of the Great Seal

Explanation of symbols included in the Great Seal, such as the bald eagle and constellation of stars

   Preview Full-Sized Print [1.04 Mb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [17.21 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

 

Keeping the Seal in Good Hands

images of people assigned to keep and use the seal since early times and photos of the materials used and steps taken to imprint the seal on a document

   Preview Full-Sized Print [1.35 Mb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [23.72 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

 

Redefining the Seal's Use

Examples of documents that no longer require the seal to be affixed, and other documents that do still require the seal. Artifacts from the Diplomacy Center collections.

   Preview Full-Sized Print [578 kb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [10.74 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

 

Using the Seal
As the Nation Expands
Aritfacts associated with use of the Great Seal from 1782-1825 on treaties, presidential proclamations and passports

   Preview Full-Sized Print [1.27 Mb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [20.77 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

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Commemorating the Seal
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Text explains when and how slight changes in the Great Seal came about, and photos show how the Great Seal has been commemorated over the years.

   Preview Full-Sized Print [1.8 Mb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [33.41 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

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Looking to the Future
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Students artwork depicts their hopes and visions for the future of the United States

   Preview Full-Sized Print [841 kb]
   Download Full-Sized Print [28.68 Mb]
   8.5 x 11 Size Print

   Text-only Version

Photo 01