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In accordance with the action of the Regents at their March meeting, establishing azure blue and maize as the official colors of the University, the Committee appointed at that time has been seeking to establish some standard for these colors. They were convinced that the color accepted at present as the standard maize and blue are incorrect and they soon found that, not only were they incorrect according to tradition, but also they did not represent the colors as defined in the dictionaries.

In practically all the dictionaries azure blue is denned as "the clear blue color of the skies," although the Oxford dictionary of 1888 adds "or of the sea reflecting it (originally the deep intense blue of more southern latitudes)." The color was also generally defined as that of the precious stone, lapis lazuli, and also cobalt blue.  Prussian blue, ultramarine, and smalt are also given alternatively. As for the color defined as maize, there was very general agreement that it was the yellow of Indian corn or maize.

Agreeing with these definitions were the earlier ribbons used by the University. In the diplomas of the late Professor Elisha Jones, dated 1859 and1861, were two strips of ribbon, one and a half inches wide, running down the left border of the diploma. In quality the blue of these ribbons was very similar to the blue recently adopted. If anything, it was a bit deeper.  Though somewhat faded, the ribbons upon the diploma of Mr. S. T. Doulas, of the Class of '73, indicate that the color was still a very deep and a very brilliant blue, while the yellow was the characteristic corn yellow from which the University has also departed in recent years. These brighter shades of yellow and blue have gradually changed until they have become the faded lemon yellow and the pale baby blue which have been accepted of recent years as the official colors of the University, colors so inadequate and so ineffective as decorations that the athletic authorities have been forced to adopt a stronger yellow and a deeper blue for purposes of decoration, unwittingly perhaps, coming nearer to the original colors than those which had been supposed to be official. The report of the Committee,  which was submitted to the Regents,  follows:

To the Resents of the University of Michigan:


At your meeting of March 22nd, you declared "maize and azure blue" to be the official colors of the University.

The University Senate, at the meeting of March 12th, appointed a committee to determine the exact shades of "maize and azure blue" which would be suitable for the official colors of the University, and to embody these shades in some lasting form.  Inasmuch as there has been no meeting of the Senate since March 12th, and since the exact shades of the colors must be established at once, if suitable colors are to be provided for the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of the University, the committee has taken the liberty of reporting their decision to you directly.

There appears to be no record that the exact shades of the colors of the University were ever determined. The color blue was made use of officially by the University before the class of 1867 chose the "maize and azure blue" as emblematic of the University. The diploma for the Master's degree, granted to Samuel H. White in 1859, has a dark blue ribbon attached by a vivid green seal. The same ribbon was used on the diplomas of Elisha Jones, in 1859 and 1861, and on the diploma of I. N.  Demmon in 1868. A fragment of ribbon that was found fastened to an old dance program preserved in the Douglas family,  is sky blue, and a number of the older graduates state that this was the blue which was at one time regarded as the standard color. This is probably correct, because the diplomas issued in 1802 were tied with a sky blue ribbon. Apparently the colors used grew lighter and lighter as time went on, and the diplomas of recent date, have been tied by a parti-colored ribbon of a very light shade of yellow, which is far from being maize, and a very pale blue,  which is very different from what is generally accepted as azure blue. The colors at present in use for lining the Doctor's hoods are for the most part of a similar order, and those made by different firms differ both with respect to the yellows and the blues employed.

In short, the blue color, which is the one longest associated with the University,  starting with a shade almost as dark as "navy blue" has gradually weakened until it has the tint known as "baby blue." The maize, likewise, has faded to correspond,  and is now an expressionless pale yellow.   So delicate have the colors become, that they have not only lost their original character, but are ineffective in decorations,  and useless to the Athletic association,  which has been forced to employ colors entirely different from those which recent graduates regard the University colors. It is only necessary to see the diversity of the banners which are displayed in the store windows to realize the confusion which exists.

Azure blue, as defined by the dictionaries,  is lapis lazuli, Prussian blue, cobalt blue,  ultramarine blue, the clear blue color of the unclouded sky. Maize is the color of the Indian corn. 

A deep blue color was evidently the original official color of the University. Such a color can be employed by the Athletic Association; combined with maize, which was added to the University colors by the students of 1867, it forms a beautiful decoration, and, if the blue is not too dark, shows well by artificial light.

The shades of "maize and azure blue" which the committee recommends and samples of which accompany this report, have been found to be acceptable to a large number of the alumni and students, and have been approved by the following alumni and students who were specially asked by the Committee to co-operate in choosing suitable shades.

Michigan Alumni—Prof. I. N. Demmon, '68; Pres. H. B. Hutchins, '71; Dr. A. S.  Warthin, '90, '93m; Mr. W. B. Shaw, '04;  Director of Out-of-door Athletics, P. G.  Bartelme, '95-*98.

A committee appointed by the Student Council—Edward G. Kemp, Frank W. Pennel, Walter Scott Hopkins, John K.  Cooledge, J. L. Crane.

A committee appointed by the Women's League—Miss Edna Thurner, Miss M.  Reed, Miss E. Moore.

The Committee has not yet fixed upon a suitable method of giving these colors a permanent form, but will endeavor to do so in the near future.

Respectfully submitted,





W. P. LOMBARD, Chairman.

The colors are shown in the plate printed above

The Michigan Alumnus

May 1912, page 365


The Official Colors of The University of Michigan