Cardinal: The Color of Stanford

While the official color of Stanford is cardinal, the color gold was originally selected as Stanford’s official color and was adopted by Stanford’s student body in fall 1891, just after the university opened.

However, in the spring of 1892, in preparation for the first big football game against the University of California, this decision was reversed by a special student body meeting. Many felt that the initial choice of gold might lead to confusion when contrasted with the blue and gold colors of the University of California. Cardinal, an early contender for the official university color at the previous year’s meeting, was again proposed as an alternative and in 1893, the color committee of the ASSU made official the precise shade of Cardinal from among a number of red swatches. The Cardinal used today is a very close approximation of the original color.

Any bitterness over the substitution subsided quickly: only a few days later the San Francisco papers announced boldly, “Cardinal triumphs over Gold and Blue,” and the color controversy at Stanford was settled forever.