Children, gather round. Grampa wants to tell you about his sphere again ...

Black and white image of two children on either side of a man holding a striped sphere.

Children, gather round. Grampa wants to tell you about his sphere again ... today's photograph dates to 1907 and shows Albert Henry Munsell (1858-1918) and his family observing a Munsell color sphere in motion.

Munsell was a painter and art teacher whose studies of color led to the creation of the Munsell Color System, an attempt to organize, analyze, and accurately define colors based on a numerical system using the attributes of hue, value, and chroma.

According to the patent he filed for the color sphere he holds in this image, the sphere was developed as an educational tool for studying color, and presented a "sequence of colors as they are found related in the spectrum and to have such a sequence in every value or gradation of colors and to have a sequence changing not only in color, but in value, at each successive stage." The patent, US640792A, was granted and published on this date, January 9, in 1900.

This photograph is part of the Dorothy Nickerson Papers series of Hagley Library's collection of Inter-Society Color Council records (Accession 2188)

Dorothy Nickerson (1900-1985) worked in the research laboratory of the Munsell Color Company. The company was originally organized in Boston in 1918 to coordinate the publication of Munsell's books and to produce educational materials on color and color theory. After 1921, under the leadership of Munsell's son Alex (A.E.O. Munsell), the company established the laboratory to investigate scientific applications of his father's work.

Nickerson began working for the company that same year, and remained there until 1926, when she took up work at the United States Department of Agriculture as a color technologist. In the course of her long and distinguished service with the USDA, Nickerson was responsible for establishing color standards for grading cotton as well as setting specifications for artificial daylight in color inspections of agricultural products.

She was also a founding member of the Inter-Society Color Council, founded on February 26, 1931 for the purpose of coordinating the activities of leading technical societies relating to the description, specification, and standardization of color and promoting the practical application of this knowledge in science, art, and industry. Nickerson served as the company's secretary from 1935 to 1952 and as president from 1954 to 1955. She also served as trustee of the Munsell Color Foundation and is credited with more than 150 scientific and technical publications.

Among Nickerson's many outstanding contributions to the field of color science was her participation in the development of the Munsell Renotation System, which provided a graphic representation of the spacing of Munsell colors according to CIE coordinates.

Following her official retirement in 1964, she continued her active involvement with the Optical Society of America's Committee on Uniform Color Scales and the Subcommittee on Color Rendering of the Illuminating Engineering Society. In collaboration with Deane Judd, she completed studies for the National Bureau of Standards on the spacing of Munsell colors which produced a comparative analysis of the Munsell Color System and the Swedish Natural Color System.