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What Is the History of the State Seal of Utah?

By Marty Paule
Updated May 17, 2024
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The design for the state seal of Utah was created by Harry Edwards and was adopted as the official seal during Utah's first state legislative session on 3 April 1896. The seal's design pays tribute to the the values and loyalties of Utah's early settlers through the use of symbolic design elements and text. It was not until 1953 that the design of the seal was codified along with rules about its use and custody. The Utah state flag incorporates a modified version of the state seal of Utah in its design. Some design elements of the seal, especially a beehive, are found on motor vehicle license plates, highway signs, and other official state government material.

Utah's circular state seal is encircled with two gold braids that contain the text, "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF UTAH," and "1896," its year of entry as the 45th state into the United States. Within the shield at the center of the seal is a beehive with the motto "INDUSTRY" appearing over it and the year 1847 appearing beneath the hive. Both the use of the beehive as a symbol and the Industry motto predated the creation of the official state seal of Utah. They were adopted as the official emblem and motto of the provisional state of Deseret in 1847, the year in which the Mormon's first arrived in Utah.

Several other symbolic elements can be found on the state seal of Utah. An American bald eagle is depicted in flight above the shield containing the beehive. Beneath the eagle, a cluster of six gold arrows symbolizing protection and defense pierce the top of the shield. There are two U.S. flags that flank the sides of the shield symbolizing Utah's membership in the United States and the mutual defense and protection afforded by this association. Two clusters of white sego lilies, the state flower of Utah, represent the state's aspirations for peace.

In 1953, the Utah state legislature enacted the Great Seal Rule, which legally established the design, use, and custody of the state seal of Utah. Apart from design elements provided for in the Utah Code Annotated, 1953, the Great Seal Rule specifies that the state seal of Utah is to be 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) in diameter and that the lieutenant governor is to be its official custodian. It also establishes the required use of the seal on all official documents and instruments to be signed by the governor, and specifies that the lieutenant governor is the only authorized agent permitted to affix the seal to documents.

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Discussion Comments

By anon315676 — On Jan 25, 2013

"Industry" is not the state motto because Utah is an industrial state, nor because mining is/was important to the state. Brigham Young wanted the first settlers to be industrious and self-sufficient and embody an attitude of industry.

By jmc88 — On Mar 05, 2012

@matthewc23 - That is a very interesting reason why and I would have never thought of that being the reason.

It seems as if some states need to educate their people better as far as what the symbolism in their state seals is.

I find all too often that state seals have mottoes or sayings that people do not understand as they are either outdated or simply just part of old history that people have forgotten, such as in Utah's case.

To be totally honest I do not mind that they picked the word "industry" to be used on their flag, but I wonder if they thought of other things that people would be more inclined to identify with as I bet there were some people that did not totally understand why they chose this word.

By matthewc23 — On Mar 05, 2012
@kentuckycat - To be totally honest one would not think that the state of Utah would be a large industrial center. In comparison to other states, like out on the East Coast, they are not, however in their area they have historically had somewhat of a monopoly on coal mining and other types of mining in the past and that is where the word "Industry" comes from on the official state seal.

Mining has actually been a big part of the states history as most of the people that settled in the state, after the original Mormons set up a colony here, were in fact people that worked on the Transcontinental Railroad, as well as miners that were looking for work.

This industry gave the state the boom that it needed to jump from being a barely inhabited territory to having a large enough population to become a state.

Industry was a very important component of the state's history and because of it they thought it was basically required to depict the word on the official state seal, which remembers the past and shows how the state came to be.

By kentuckycat — On Mar 04, 2012

@Izzy78 - You would be surprised with the state of Utah. As far as the bee hive being depicted goes, the reasoning is that the bee is the official insect of the state of Utah and it is not uncommon at all to see bees throughout the state.

There is even a minor league baseball team in Salt Lake City called the Salt Lake City Bees and they are very popular as they are the source of baseball in the state's capital.

As far as industry goes, I did find that to be a bit surprising as the center of industry in Utah, I would guess is Salt Lake City, considering it is by far their largest city. However, their population is not even two hundred thousand so I would not think that it would be a very big industrial center either.

By Izzy78 — On Mar 04, 2012

I have to be totally honest. The official state seal for Utah kind of surprises me with what is depicted on it.

I was quite surprised to read that the seal incorporates the word "Industry" into their seal, as I really doubt most people think of the state of Utah as being a large industrial center in that part of the country.

Outside of Salt Lake City, which I do not feel is too large to begin with, there are not really any large urban centers in this state and it is somewhat of a rural minded state when one thinks about it.

Another thing that surprised me was the fact that there is a bee hive depicted on the state seal and I have really never thought of bees as being associated with the state.

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