The emblem of Washington University in St. Louis is derived from three sources: the coat of arms of President George Washington, the official seal of the university and the emblem of King Louis IX of France, after whom the city of St. Louis is named.
The official seal
The Washington University in St. Louis official seal was originally developed in 1896 by Holmes Smith, professor of Drawing and History of Art at the university, and adopted by the Board of Trustees in March 1897. Professor Smith’s design included elements which symbolize both the origins of the university’s name and the university’s location in St. Louis.
Stars, a book and fleurs-de-lis
The three stars and two horizontal bands are part of George Washington’s coat of arms and also represent the stars and stripes of the American flag. The three fleurs-de-lis at the bottom of the crest symbolize King Louis IX of France, after whom the city of St. Louis is named; the open book represents a university. The university’s motto, adopted in 1915, appears across the pages of the book: Per Veritatem Vis, “Strength through Truth.”