It is sometimes called Bishop Brownell’s Book, or the Commencement Book. Peter Knapp in his Trinity College in the Twentieth Century simply calls it, “The Book.”
Not to be confused with the Matriculation Book, “‘The Book’ is a small, early-19th century record book that all recipients of Trinity degrees touch during Commencement ceremonies,” Knapp states. The Book remains unnamed due in part to its contents: its pages contain details of the Commencement exercises and degrees, prayers for graduates in Latin, and include signatures from more recent Trinity College presidential inaugurations. It is a curious and important piece of Trinity history, originating from a legendary mix-up during the first Commencement ceremony in 1827. College President Thomas Church Brownell intended for students to place their hands on a Bible during commencement exercises, but either couldn’t find one or realized he didn’t bring it with him to the ceremony, and so he used his personal record book instead.
“By chance, the Book became one of the college’s oldest traditions,” Peter Knapp writes. “The Book’s use at Commencement appears to have been inconsistent in the years following the Bishop’s Presidency, but it can be said with certainty that all Trinity graduates have touched it” since the 1946-47 academic year.
Thanks to the efforts of College Archivist Eric Stoykovich, the Book was recently retrieved for digitization and is now available to view in the Digital Repository. The physical book resides in a safe location on campus in order to ensure its preservation for annual use at Commencement.
Source: Trinity College in the Twentieth Century by Peter Knapp, pages 232-33.