“What Name Shall Represent Trinity”

Excerpt From: The Trinity Chronicle, vol. 17, no. 3 (Wednesday, September 28, 1921)

W H A T  N A M E  S H A L L  R E P R E S E N T  T R I N I T Y 

“Other institutions throughout the country have a nick-name and that name follows their representatives wherever they go… Through the present TRINITY’S men have been spoken of by the characteristic of the very broad term “Methodists.” We want something now that shall be our own possession- personal in the sense that it will apply aptly to TRINITY.

Every student, every man and woman regardless of his or her interests should feel acutely that this movement is a thing in which they have an active part.” 

In September 1921, the student newspaper, The Trinity Chronicle, launched a campaign for a “catchy name, one of our own possessions that would be instantly recognizable nationwide in songs, yells and publicity” (Dchnp630030020 – The Duke University Chronicle – Duke Digital Collections). A lift of a twenty-five year ban on football a year earlier only intensified the scramble for a team name. Until then, Trinity College called themselves the Methodists, the Blue and White, or Trinity White (McDonald). No name stuck for good reason. Within the next few years, Trinity College would float several names ranging from shades of blue to animals to blue animals (McDonald).  The name “Blue Devils” also appeared, eventually becoming the namesake of Trinity College and now Duke University. An image of a “Blue Devil” caricature was certainly unique at the time, but also strange, and I decided to raise several questions about the origins of the “Blue Devil” moniker. 

How did Trinity College, a nonsectarian but historically Methodist-affiliated institution, adopt and maintain the “Blue Devil” representation for athletic and trademark purposes despite the perfidious and satanic connotation of a “devil”?