Tracing the Roots: Graduation Regalia Origin

No more exams, no more projects, no more activities- what a great day for students! However, there’s a mixture of sadness for it would be the day to part ways with friends and classmates who complete the whole adventure of school life. It is the day where academic dresses are worn. It’s a wonder for everyone the graduation regalia origin.

In America, there is a historical development of graduation regalia protocol. During the colonial period, the European style has heavily influenced the use of academic regalia practices in United States. In 1700’s, some schools like the Princeton University and Columbia required the use of their prescribed academic dress at all times. However, during the nineteenth century, it’s not worn on a daily basis. Until the fall of the Civil War, these academic dresses were only worn when one would represent the institution they are in, or in ceremonies. During that year, the academic institutions assigned specific meanings to the academic regalia but they were inconsistent in the set of rules. The history of graduation regalia also dates back in 1887 when Columbia included the three velvet stripes on their regalia’s sleeves. The masters used black velvet and the doctors used the purple velvet. They also required the doctors to use the scarlet gown on occasions of festivity.

The graduation regalia origin also includes the first documented usage of the corporate colors of the university in the design of academic dresses. For instance, Princeton University had an orange stripe between the shoulders of the black gown. Furthermore, other institutions such as Hampton-Sydney, started to use gray academic dresses during the graduation ceremonies.

In 1891, the New York University had a three sleeve stripes on their academic dress. Thus, they required to use them during the colors of university faculty. They also had the Edinburgh shape on their hoods but they abolished it when the Academic Code was implemented; however, the Harvard University adopted it 1902.

Since the gown’s history is already explained, the mortarboard’s origin should also be traced. Knowing the historical development of mortarboards is also part in the study of graduation regalia origin. It was said that the cap derived its style from the biretta of the Roman Catholic clergy. The Roman biretta was also a derivation of the skullcap which is called pileus quadratus. The Italian biretta, a cone-shaped red cap which is related to Etruscan and Roman’s tutulus and pileus, was noted during the fourteenth century among students and youth. This represented royalty for it symbolizes the blood and life. The headwear was also evident in Renaissance paintings. They are worn by Italian nobles, especially during the invasion in Europe. This cap was originally for master degrees holders who were said to have the highest qualification in medieval academia. Later, bachelors and undergraduates used and innovated it into a corner-cap or cater-cap.

The graduation regalia origin can be traced in the patent being filed in 1950 by Edward O’Reilly and Joseph Durham. They developed their idea in making the mortarboard sturdier by putting a metal filling into it. Since then, it has been widely used by different schools and universities.

Now the kids could write an essay and recall the correct spelling of words we had tried to retain for years

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