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Free Puzzles: Coloring Edition

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A square is shown filled with squiggly lines that form many small shapes, some of which have small black dots inside.
“Funland,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), May 9, 1937.

Since its inception in 2016 by the New York Academy of Medicine, archives, libraries, and museums around the world have participated in #ColorOurCollections on social media in early February each year. These institutions find interesting images from their vast collections and present them as coloring pages—to the delight of adults and children alike! Since the pages of our historic newspapers in Chronicling America* provide some wonderful coloring opportunities, we couldn’t miss the chance the jump in.

If you have read any of our previous blog posts about puzzles, you will already know that newspapers in the early 1900s printed a number of original types of puzzles. Among them were puzzles meant to be colored. These coloring challenges took many forms, so take a look at some of them below.

Cubist Coloring

Cubism was the newest form of art in 1913, started five years earlier in Paris, and it had taken hold of the popular imagination. The popular children’s “Fun” section, syndicated across many newspapers of the time, introduced kids to Cubism with their Cubist coloring puzzles. The goal is to fill in the correct triangles to form a shape such a person or animal.

A box is shown that is divided into many, uneven triangles. Text above the box reads: Fun's New Cubist Puzzle.
“Fun’s New Cubist Puzzle,” The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), April 13, 1913.
Find the solution to this puzzle and a puzzle to find Mrs. Cubist here.
A box is divided into many, uneven triangles.
“Moo! Where is that Cubicow?” The San Francisco Call, (San Francisco, CA), April 27, 1913.

Color the Dots

Newspapers used a number of variations on this one. There are shapes and some of them have dots. After coloring the shapes with dots, you will see some type of image appear.

A box is divided with squiggly lines into many small shapes, some of which have small black dots inside. In the upper right corner there is a cartoon drawing of a dog. In the upper left corner there is text that reads: Shade in all of the lit-tle dotted sections with your pencil to make silhouette pictures of Fido's two friends.
“Can You Solve These?” Worcester Democrat and the Ledger-Enterprise (Pocomoke City, MD), February 18, 1938.
A box is divided into many long, skinny, irregular shapes, some of which have small black dots insides. The text at the top reads: What is it?
“What is it?” Perth Amboy Evening News (Perth Amboy, NJ), June 10, 1921.

Grandma’s Quilts

In a combination of coloring and logic, these puzzles sound very simple as you are supposed to help “Grandma” with a quilt, but they are actually quite difficult. Try a couple and see if you can figure out how to correctly color the pattern.

A box is divided into many shapes, some of which look like bells. There is newspaper text below. Above the box, the text reads: Help Grandma with Colors.
“Help Grandma with Colors,” The Chronicle (Pascagoula, MS), November 14, 1963.
A box is divided into a pattern with circles and angled lines. Newspaper text is below. Above the box is the heading: It's a Patchwork Coloring Poser.
“It’s a Patchwork Coloring Poser,” The Chronicle (Pascagoula, MS), October 3, 1963.

Color by Number

Finally, the ever popular color-by-number, a type of coloring puzzle that most of us are familiar with, appeared in newspapers as well.

A box is divided into many irregular, smaller shapes with numbers inside each shape. The text above the box reads: Colorful Day in Fun Land.
“Colorful Day in Fun Land,” The Chronicle (Pascagoula, MS), December 20, 1963.
A box is divided into many irregular, smaller shapes, each of which has a number inside. Newspaper text is below. The heading above the box reads: Something Fishy in Fun Land.
“Something Fishy in Fun Land,” The Chronicle (Pascagoula, MS), September 10, 1963.

For more coloring fun, don’t miss out on the Library of Congress’ Coloring Books on Pinterest, where you can find whole coloring pages.

*The Chronicling America historic newspapers online collection is a product of the National Digital Newspaper Program and jointly sponsored by the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Follow Chronicling America on Twitter @ChronAmLOC


  1. Thank you. I am gonna have some fun.

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