"History and Stories of Nebraska"
by Addison Erwin Sheldon

Produced by Connie Snyder


The great seal of a state is an iron or steel instrument which stamps an imprint upon important papers and documents. The imprint is itself often called the great seal of the state, for it is the sign of the state's power and authority.

The first great seal of Nebraska was made when Nebraska was a territory. Its picture is shown on page 203. Its imprint is found only on the old documents.

Nebraska Territorial Seal

When Nebraska became a state in 1867 the legislature passed an act providing for the making of a new great seal. The act prescribed the design for the new great seal as follows:

The eastern part of the circle to be represented by a steamboat ascending the Missouri River; the mechanic arts to be represented by a smith with a hammer and anvil; in the foreground, agriculture to be represented by a settler's cabin, sheaves of wheat, and stalks of growing corn; in the background a train of cars heading towards the Rocky Mountains, and on the extreme west, the Rocky Mountains to be plainly in view; around the top of this circle, to be in capital letters, the motto, "Equality Before the Law," and the circle to be surrounded with the words, "Great Seal of the State of Nebraska, March 1,1867."

The great seal was made as ordered and is now kept by the Secretary of State in the Capitol at Lincoln. The picture of the imprint given here is the exact size of the great seal.

Nebraska State Seal.
(From photograph collection of A. E. Sheldon.)


  1. Compare these two seals and tell which one you prefer and why?
  2. Why does a State have a seal?
  3. In which direction are you looking in the picture of the State Seal.
  4. What river between you and the Rocky Mountains?