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Color: Home

About This Guide

Welcome to our Research Guide about Color!

In this guide, you can find information and resources about the history of color, color theory, color science, and the applications of each of these to fields including design, fashion, architecture, interior design, and more.

You can use this guide to find the answers to common questions about color, ranging from the scientific ("why is the sky blue?") to the historical ("why is purple considered a color for royalty?") to the philosophical and cultural ("why do we say someone is feeling blue when they're depressed?").

You will find a range of types of resources here. On each page, we list a few books available at the New York Public Library that would be a good starting place to learn about that page's topic, and we also include some YouTube videos, websites, scientific articles, photographs, and other sources that we have found interesting and helpful. This home page offers many places to begin your journey into the world of color.

Where to Begin: General Books on Color

Interactive online resources

Books: Explorations of Individual Colors

Color Wheel

This color wheel made by an 18th century naturalist seeks to demonstrates how a multitude of colors can be created from three basic ones (red, yellow, and blue). The drawings at the corners of the page demonstrate how the core principles of color and color theory apply equally to scientists, painters, and ordinary people enjoying nature.

Source: Moses Harris, The Natural System of Colours and Ignaz Schiffermüller, Versuch eines Farbensystems (Vienna, 1772), plate I. via Wikimedia Commons

Articles: Colors in the news

Image: "xray" by Michael Roper is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Image: "Stunning turquoise seascape" by Neville Wootton is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Image: "Beets, cubed" by V. Tobin is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Image: "Lines of blues" by jurek d is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Image: "iPhone" by Gonzalo Baeza is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Image: "Sea Fan Goby" by Klaus Stiefel is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Image: "trends" by Mike Cohen is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Image: "Pantone Rainbow" by Elia Turra is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image: "In The Storm" by marcel lemieux is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Using NYPL Databases

This video explains how to find resources about color using a New York Public Library Database. It uses one specific database as an example, but it also explains how to find other databases on the NYPL site. The "Research" section of the NYPL site is a very rich resource for students, scholars, and anyone interested in learning more about a particular subject, and we hope that this video will help you learn more about it!


Color Preferences

Are color preferences across gender lines innate or learned? What about people's favorite colors around the world? 

Here are some articles that try to answer these questions, as well as some resources where you can learn more:

Subject Areas at NYPL

You can browse the New York Public Library catalog by subject terms to find books related to a certain aspect of or approach to color.

Here are some subject areas that would be good places to start: