The Flag of W.U.

And now I say that by more than fifty years of growth Washington University has earned the right to her magnificent housing. She has earned her right to fly her flag- not as an empty sign, but as her emblem, full of thrilling meaning to each one of us who are bound to her by cords that reach the inmost heart-full of inspiration and promise to all who reach for the highest in man’s possibility and God’s greatness.

Many times in the history of the world’s events has it been the part of the women to prepare the banners that have celebrated the achievement of heroes, and in this great event we make no exception. The women now give to the University this flag that shall through all time stand for disinterested patriotism and consecrated purpose; reverence for the best that the culture and experience of the past has offered; strength of intellect and soul; and abiding faith in the power and greatness of almighty love.

–Lily Rose Ernst (WU Class 1892)

I may just be an exception, but I certainly have never held Wash.U.’s flag in such high esteem as Ms. Ernst. I take pride in my school, but do not think about my school’s flag design very often.


What’s so special about a flag?

But when I really thought about it, I give a lot of meaning to other aspects of Wash.U. Dorms, common rooms, Bear’s Den, the DUC, favorite hide-out study and/or sleeping places… I hold these places dear to me. And perhaps the way I feel about these places are similar to how Ms. Ernst felt about the flag she helped make. The flag symbolized stories of community, hard work, and personal growth for her, and that’s a really special feeling.

What places or traditions or symbols remind you of WashU?



Learn more about Miss Lilly Rose Ernst
This link discusses the official Wash.U. colors and logo:

And here you can read about the Wash.U. official seal:


This post is part of an occasional series, marking the 110 year anniversary of the Danforth Campus’ first use for academic programs, in 1904-05.  Read more about the dedication events and first commencement ceremony, June 1905, in the Alumni Bulletin available in full text on-line.

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.