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Why is the blue book blue?
George Coleman, registrar: This goes back into at least the 19th century. So, you know about blue books? Well, I know that way back when I was in college there were blue books. What about the color? Oh, it's an okay color. OoooKay.
Stephanie Hicks '03: I don't like blue books. They just induce stress when you see a blue book coming. Ahhh! Sorry, flashback.
Nancy Reinhardt, special collections librarian: Well, the earliest use of the term "blue book" (as cited by the OED) is 1633. This usage refers to official reports of Parliament that were issued in blue paper covers. The phrase "blue book" continued in use, in Great Britain and in the U.S., to the present day. Therefore, since exam books are issued in uniform format, it is not surprising that they were issued in blue-paper covers and called "blue books." From the 17th century onwards blue was a typical color used by printers as a temporary binding for pamphlets. Why blue and not red? I"m not sure. Thanks.
Reynolds Manufacturing Co., paper mill, Holyoke, Mass.: No answer.
Barb Shutt, book division manager, bookstore: My interesting fact on blue books is that we sell them to departments but they're not for display in the bookstore. Why? I can only presume that's so students don't take them and fill them out ahead of time. Hmmm. Where do the blue books come from? We get ours from Roaring Spring Blank Book Company. Apparently we have some on order so you can ask where our order is.
Jim Lucey, director of operations, Roaring Springs Blank Book Co., Roaring Springs, Pa.: Well it's really funny that you're calling, because we had a call from the newspaper in Albany and they were doing a research project on the history of the blue book. So, what do you know? Not much. The fella's name was Paul Grondahl. Unfortunately, what he found was that the people who are still in business making blue books, which aren't many of us, haven't been doing it all that long. You know we've been in business forever, since 1887, but we've only been making blue books for about 10 years. So, I don't know. No one knows, Jim. Maybe Mr. Grondahl was able to talk to somebody who did.
Paul Grondahl, Albany Times Union: The blue book's history is as murky as an ill-prepared undergrad's final exam answers.
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