So far, I've been sharing information about the pre-polish history of nail care, but today's post shows the earliest newspaper reference I've found to actual colored polish. From the January 14, 1938 edition of the Red & Black, the University of Georgia's student published newspaper (which is still in publication):
I assume from the fact that this outfit made Costume of the Week, that it was pretty sensational but not generally disapproved of. On the other hand, the editor of the society page did feel the need to hint that black nails looked a little dirty.
Before starting this research, I assumed that anything other than white, pink, and red polishes were a recent innovation, but it seems I was wrong. Modern nail lacquer was invented in the 1920's, and Revlon started selling the first widely popular polishes in the 1930's. By the end of that decade quite a few colors, obviously including black, were available. The more outrageous colors were most popular with college age women.