As a part of our initiative called Curious Cornhuskers, an anonymous reader asked The Daily Nebraskan, “Why was red chosen as the university color?”
The official school colors of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are scarlet and cream, and they were selected by students in the 1890s, according to the university brand guide.
Debra Kleve White, former UNL Yell Squad member and author of “The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions — the Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer and More,” said that Nebraska’s school color was originally gold.
According to White, Clem Chase, a former editor for The Daily Nebraskan’s predecessor The Hesperian,and Roscoe Pound, who later became the dean of UNL’s law school, decided on old gold as a school color in 1882.
However, old gold did not remain a school color for long.
“In 1893, [Nebraska] went to play Iowa and Iowa had old gold as a color,” White said. “When they researched it, they found out that Iowa had the color first.”
White said former UNL Chancellor James Hulme Canfield led a movement and formed a committee to change the school color from old gold. According to White, a committee member suggested scarlet and cream and the colors became official after the members debated.
But, why scarlet and cream? According to White, the exact answer to this question remains unknown.
“They just decided that [scarlet] sounded like a good school color,” she said.