The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book The Nittany Lion

The Nittany Lion

An Illustrated Tale Jackie R. Esposito, and Steven L. Herb
  • Copyright: 1997
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 11
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Illustrations: 26 color/238 b&w illustrations
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-01588-0
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02115-7

Paperback Edition: $54.95Add to Cart


What is a Nittany Lion? The most frequently asked question about Penn State University is answered definitively for the first time in this beautifully illustrated book. Penn State librarians Jackie Esposito and Steven Herb have devoted hundreds of hours of research to uncover the fascinating and colorful history behind the beloved Penn State icon.

Elements of the tale include the tragic legend of Indian Princess Nita-nee, for whom the majestic mountain in Central Pennsylvania is named; the story of the Original Nittany Lion, the elusive mountain lion that once roamed the hills of Pennsylvania; the 1904 Penn State baseball game at Princeton University, where the idea of a school mascot was born; the creation of the famous limestone Nittany Lion Shrine on Penn State’s University Park campus; and the "Men in the Suit," the many Penn State students who have played the role of the Nittany Lion Mascot. This tale is also the story of many important figures in Penn State and Pennsylvania history, including folklorist Henry Shoemaker, baseball player and student leader H. D. "Joe" Mason, sculptor Heinz Warneke, famous mascot Norm Constantine, and football coaching legends "Rip" Engle and Joe Paterno.

Sure to be of interest to Penn State’s 340,000 living alumni and the countless numbers of Nittany Lion fans all over the world, this book will also appeal to folklorists and Pennsylvania historians.

Jackie R. Esposito is Assistant University Archivist at Penn State University.

Steven L. Herb is Education Librarian at Penn State University.

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