America in Color

America in Color on Smithsonian Channel

This is what history looked like

America in the first half of the 20th Century was an untamed place. Every decade brought new tides of war and peace, money and squalor, fashion and sport, technology and civil strife. It’s easy to forget how energetic and turbulent American history is when you look at it in old black and white photos and footage. But every single dirty, sunny, exalted, tumultuous, bloody moment happened in color. Now, the Smithsonian Channel is showing it that way in its new series America In Color. Suddenly, American history feels different.

Each episode of America in Color tells the story of a decade, from the 1920s through the 1960s. You can watch them on Smithsonian Channel. It’s part of our America’s Top 250 package. And you can preview the first episode on DISH Studio, channel 102, at 10:30 PM on 6/30, 4:30 PM on 7/1, 2 AM on 7/3, and 11 am on 7/4 (all times EST).

Check here for episode airtimes on Smithsonian Channel

To make America In Color, Smithsonian Channel assembled a team of historical detectives. They went looking for any early Twentieth Century color artifact they could find. Many of them, especially from the 1920s, were not photographs as we know them today, but autochromes and kodachromes—pictures made using different chemical processes and long exposures. Colorized postcards also provided lots of clues. They came from museums and books, but also amateur historians and enthusiasts’ websites. And now they’ve helped turn black-and-white footage from the 1920s through the 1960s into vibrant, immediate, immersive media.

See early twentieth-century America like you never have before. See what your grandfather might have looked like as he set off for war.

See what civil rights activists looked like when they boycotted the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama, in the mid-1950s.

See what candidate JFK looked like while his car rumbled down the road in a parade ahead of the 1960 presidential election.

They looked extremely lively. They looked like you.

Watch each of the five episodes in the miniseries, and you’ll come away with a renewed sense of awe for America and its past.