The Encyclopedia Britannica traces the historical background of local color literature to post-Civil War times. Following in the footsteps of the pre-war "sectional humorists," local colorists were interested in realistically depicting life in different sections of the United States in order to promote understanding and unification.
color writing that the Encyclopedia Britannica discusses is, for the most
part, literature in the common sense of the term. Fiction writers like
Sarah Orne Jewett, Bret Harte, O. Henry, and Mark Twain have been identified
within this tradition. By the 1930s, the local color style had spread
beyond the bounds of novels and short stories into less formal territory
like the "hometown material" section of local newspapers. Local color
writing had always been premised on an informal approach and rejection
of high-culture concerns. Now it entered mass media.
Juliet Gorman, May 2001