DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s

As the 1960s came to an end, the rapid development of the American postwar decades began to take a noticeable toll on the environment, and the public called for action. In November 1971, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency announced a massive photo documentary project, called DOCUMERICA, to record the adverse effects of modern life on the environment. More than 100 photographers were hired not only to document specific issues, but to capture images showing how we interacted with the environment. By 1974, more than 80,000 photographs had been produced. The National Archives recently made 15,000 of these images available, and I've spent much of the past week combing through those to bring you these 46 glimpses of America in the early 1970s, with an eye toward our then-ailing environment.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • © Julian Ghahreman-Rad / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    Images From the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards are now taking entries, and the organizers have been kind enough to share some of their early entries with us.

  • Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

    Red Sludge From Brazilian Dam Collapse Reaches the Atlantic

    Earlier this month, on November 5, two dams retaining tons of iron-mining waste in Brazil burst, releasing a massive flood of toxic sludge that has flowed downstream into Rio Doce, spending two weeks making its way several hundred miles downstream, finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

  • AP

    Today in History: November 23

    A look at various events that took place on this day, November 23, photographed over the past century. Today’s collection includes a sword-fighting Mussolini, a motorcycle-jumping Evel Knievel, William Shatner dressed as a gun-toting Santa Claus, and much more.

  • Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

    Welcomed to Europe

    As politicians debate the status of refugees, volunteers are working tirelessly to provide them with basic care.

Join the Discussion