Putting Black-and-White Back into Color: 1930's Schoolrooms
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1840, expanded.
Its easy to assume a modern prejudice regarding the interior decoration of 1910-1940 school rooms, allowing a certain conceit and picturing them in shades of gray, the images formed being "colored" by the images of those things that we have seen, almost all of which have turned up in black-and-white photographs or movies. But of course we know that this can't be true, and that Humphrey Bogart didn't always wear a gray worsted in his movies, and didn't move that gray suit through gray rooms. Its just that the image-formation is influenced by what we've seen, and since what we've seen of these rooms is mostly without color, then our images are difficult to assemble outside black-and-white. This applies to just about everything from that era, which explains why it is such a glorious shock to see motion pictures or photographs of (say) New York City street scenes from 1944. (And why is it such a jolt to the visual system to learn that police cars in Chicago during the 1933 World's Fair were orange?)
This thinking came to the surface again this morning when I uncovered the Paint Specifications for the Model School, prepared for the East Cleveland Board of Education under supervision of the Foremost Authorities, and published by ARCO in 19391. It reminds us that the only thing that lived in black-and-white in those days are in our memories. (I've written about unexpected color in Lost German Color of 1927, The Very Describale Macro Color of 1937, The Color Green in the History of Squares, and of course the non-immortal 200,000,000 Pounds of Buttocks-or-Putting the Black-and-White back into Color, and others.