Dig Deeper: History of Color

The Science History Institute’s newest exhibition, BOLD: Color from Test Tube to Textile, uses many items from our museum and library collections to tell the story of how we color our world. We have many historical materials on the science, artistic and commercial applications, and marketing of color housed in our Othmer Library in Philadelphia.

If you are interested in the history of dyes and dyeing, start with this short list of materials curated by our librarians. The diversity of languages and range of publication dates show that dyeing is an ancient and global enterprise. If you’re interested in the history of color more broadly, start with this short list of materials.

You can also search our library catalog using subject headings such as “dye industry,” “dyes and dyeing,” or “color” to discover many more related materials. 

To Use Our Collections

The historical collections of the Science History Institute Museum and Othmer Library include archival collections, scientific instruments, objects, fine art paintings and prints, modern books and journals, and rare books and manuscripts.

A variety of our historical resources are available online in our digital collections. For in-person research, make an appointment to visit our library. Please fill out this reference form to contact our librarians with any questions.

Featured image: A Symbol of the Rainbow from The Theory and Practice of Color, 1918.


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