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All About Me: Identity and Design

Heraldry Contest

Smith. Alphabet. 1597.

Smith. Title page from the Alphabet or blazon of arms. Manuscript, 1597

Segar. Names and arms of the Knights of the Garter. Manuscript, 1606

As we prepare for our upcoming exhibition, “Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England,” Folger Shakespeare Library invites students in grades 2 through 6 to participate in a contest, “All About Me: Identity and Design.”

Winners will be displayed as a part of our exhibition and will be honored at the exhibition opening!

All submissions due by June 14, 2014.


Here’s what you need to do:


  1. LEARN all about your family, your culture, your traditions, your history. Talk to family members and read letters. Think about your interests and hobbies. Look at family pictures. Figure out what it means to be YOU.

  2. WRITE up what you’ve learned in a paragraph or two. Tell us about what you learned and how you learned it.

  3. CREATE a shield to show us who you are. Check out the Brief Rules of Heraldry (below) and use colors and images to tell everyone about you.

  4. FILL OUT this form.

  5. SEND everything to us! Either email us at educate@folger.edu or mail it to:

201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Attention: Carol Ann Stanger


Brief Rules of Heraldry:


Each shield is unique, but they all follow the same rules.

  1. The sides of the shield are determined by the person carrying it. The right side is the “dexter” and the left side the “sinister.” The dexter is thought to be the most noble.

  2. Heraldic colors for the field (background) fall into three groups: those that represent metals (gold or silver), color (red, black, green, blue, purple, brown, orange, blood-red, mulberry, or sky blue), or fur (most often ermine or vair/squirrel). The field can be divided using different colors.

  3. Choose a “charge” or image to place on the field. This could be a shape, such as the basic shapes of “ordinaries,” which are geometric shapes or lines. Another type of charge is a figure, such as a lion or bird or any other figure. The most common figures are animals. This type of charge could represent the family name—for example a strong arm for Armstrong or a chef’s hat for Cook.

  4. With these basic steps in mind, create a design that shares your identity.
  Additional Information

More Info and Contest Guidelines

Contest Form

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