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Unholy Demons?

by Andrea Bainbridge 1/31/2013 9:24:00 AM

Pre-1999 Billy Blue Demon, featured on a button.Our Blue Demon today.How did the nation’s largest, Catholic university become a group of blue-tinted demons? To celebrate DePaul’s inaugural Blue Demon Day, Special Collections & Archives takes a quick look at the history and stories surrounding our lovable, and unlikely, mascot.

Demons on the playing field are always on the level,
Demons on the fighting field can fight to beat the devil!

Excerpted from “DePaul Demons;” Fred Waring and Charles Gaynor, copyright 1942

While there is nothing to show whether this fight song ever caught on, it does reflect the playful attitude our Catholic and Vincentian institution has traditionally taken toward its “demonic” association. Perhaps that’s because the origin, as one alumnus put it, “was not satanic, but phonetic.”

First known as St. Vincent’s College, our earliest athletic uniforms sported monograms and designs incorporating our initials: “SVC.” These designs were replaced with a commanding “D” after St. Vincent’s became DePaul University in 1907. It was a short, though slightly mysterious, path from “D-Men” to “Demons.”
The St. Vincent's College football squad, 1900.Early "D-Men" in their letter sweaters; DePaul football players, c. 1912.
Some sources credit an unnamed journalist with first using “D-Men” around 1922 , and one alumnus has claimed credit for the moniker, explaining he used “D-Men” as manager of DePaul sports teams in the early 1920s.  Athletic coverage in early editions of The DePaulia student newspaper frequently refer to our players as the “Red and Blue,” on account of our school colors, with “Demons” becoming common in the mid-1920s. But it must have taken a little while for the “Demon” designation to overtake the competition: DePaulia articles in 1924 and 1925 use a mix of D-Men, Demons, and even Blue Devils – sometimes within the same edition of the paper.
This little demon drops a banana peel in front of an unwitting tennis player in the 1969 DePaulian yearbook.The Demon in a Blue Suit - "DIBS" - cozies up to fans, 1999.
Depictions of the Blue Demon run the gamut from fuzzy to fierce. The fiend we know today had his well-received debut in 1999, replacing the impish Billy Blue Demon. While some have been critical of our mascot – claiming he’s an inappropriate symbol for a Catholic university  – our Demon continues to be a fan-favorite. After 90 years, he’s also the only figure in DePaul Athletics to outlast Ray Meyer. Go Demons!

Want to learn more about Blue Demons past? Visit DePaul’s Special Collections & Archives, Room 314 of the Richardson Library, or email us at

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