Myth—School colors of orange and white were chosen by a colorblind student

Apparently in an effort to explain the disparity between the color of “big orange” and that of the center of the American Daisy that grew in profusion on the Hill, a myth circulates that student Charles Moore, the president of the University Athletics Association who chose the colors of orange and white for the first field day in 1889 was colorblind and had been told that the center of the daisy was orange. In fact, there is no supporting evidence for this, and the original “UT Orange” was a yellow-orange that roughly emulated the color of the daisy center. The student body twice voted for the colors of orange and white, and in both elections, the debates specifically mention that the color is that of the center of the daisy.

“Big Orange” was officially declared to be Pantone Matching System color 021 in 1982 to achieve a consistency, and which showed well on television. The official Pantone Matching System value was changed to 151 in the late 1990s. Ruth Lovell, in a January 23, 1996, Daily Beacon column written while she was working in the University Historian’s Office, pointed to the fact that the color was taken from the daisies that grew in profusion on the Hill and reported that one student called Charles Moore “color blind” when told of the origin of the colors when compared with the “Big Orange” of 1996. Her humorous treatment of the subject may have been one of the first appearances of the myth in print.

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  • Title Myth—School colors of orange and white were chosen by a colorblind student
  • Author
  • Keywords Myth—School colors of orange and white were chosen by a colorblind student
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date September 27, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 9, 2018