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Birren Collection of Books on Color

Faber Birren (1900-1988) was a leading authority on the effects of color on humans as well as a dedicated collector of texts on color. The Birren Collection is particularly strong in color systems, color standards, and color nomenclature. Color theory, artists' manuals and treatises, and color techniques are also well represented. In addition, the collection has materials on vision, psychology, printing and the graphic arts, textiles, music, religion, biology, medicine, heraldry, and the occult and ranges from the 16th century to the contemporary.

To facilitate exploration of the Birren Collection, the Yale University Library has created the Birren Collection Image Database.  It provides 1-3 representative images for works that contain images. The Yale community on campus and connected by VPN can see all available images.  The general public will see only images without copyright restrictions.

Readers access images in the database by searching for specific bibliographic information or browsing by subject facets, including the proprietary classification system developed for the Birren Collection by Yale art historian Robert L. Herbert in 1974.  The database also connects to Orbis, Yale’s online public access catalog, giving the complete catalog record of each item and more information about its physical location in the Yale University Library system. 

Browse the digital collection by the proprietary classification system: Color Theory and Bibliography (A)Major Statement of Scientific Theory (B)Nomenclature, Color Systems and Color Standards (C)Manuals and Artists' Treatises (D)Manuals Stressing Materials and Techniques (E)Printing (F)Color-Music (G)Religion, Heraldry, Symbolism, and the Occult (H)Psychology of Color (I)Perception and Vision (J)Children and Color (K)Medicine and Biology (L)Optics, Physics, Chemistry (M)Nature (N)Textiles, Dyes, Ornament (O)Fashion, Decoration, Industry (P)Art, Film, Photography (Q)Artists' Books (R)Electronic Media (S)Paint Chips (T)Miscellany (U)Sample or Swatch Book (V)