The Bryn Mawr Owl

How a beloved College symbol has evolved over time.

The owl, emblematic of all things wise and true, has been part of Bryn Mawr’s visual vocabulary for more than a century, adapting over time to meet the needs of the day. Here are some of the ways the clever bird has shown up in College history.


In 1903, the Board of Trustees formed a Seal Committee to come up with a seal that would represent Bryn Mawr College. In their report, they “unanimously decided to recommend to the Board for adoption a seal consisting of three owls with the motto veritatem dilexi, "I have chosen truth," and the superscription in Latin Bryn Mawr Sigillum Collegii.

 

 

The year the official seal was approved, 1904, also saw the completion of Rockefeller Arch, designed by Philadelphia architects Cope and Stewardson. Flanking the arch are two handsome owls sculpted in stone.

 

 

 

Applebee the owl appeared in College News starting in March 1961. Named after Constance Applebee, director of physical education at Bryn Mawr from 1904 to 1929, Applebee was the mascot for College News for many years, and wrote poetry and articles about college life.

 

 

 

In designing an athletics logo, Bryn Mawr College athletes, staff members, and the student body sought a representation of an owl that would convey pride, respect, competitiveness and confidence, but not arrogance.

 

 

 

As Bryn Mawr, along with the rest of the world, faced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our favorite feathered friend turned up, appropriately, in a facemask.