Trinity Treasure

The Book

Photo by Nick Caito

It’s not just a book, it’s the Book. This timeworn classic contains the order of exercises from Trinity College’s first Commencement in 1827. Story has it that the then-president, Bishop Thomas Church Brownell, wanted graduating seniors to touch a Bible as they received their diplomas. When it came time for that key part of the ceremony, Brownell couldn’t find his book of choice, so he went with the small notebook he had on hand. According to Traditions of Trinity Past and Present, by former college archivist Peter Knapp ’65 and wife Anne Knapp M’76, the tradition lapsed once Brownell left office. It was revived in 1946 under President G. Keith Funston ’32, who, it was said, hoped to spark interest in the college’s history. In the fall of that year, Funston returned the book to the secretary of the faculty, an act that represented his entrusting the faculty with the responsibility of educating Trinity’s students. The following spring, the book was given back to the president so that seniors could touch it as they graduated. This literal give and take—at Matriculation and at Commencement—continues today.

Editor’s note: “Trinity Treasure” highlights a person, place, or thing on campus that is just what the name implies: a Trinity treasure. Do you have an idea for what to showcase? Please send your suggestions to