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

  • Thierry Bornier / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

    2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

    The Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is now underway at National Geographic, and entries will be accepted until the end of the month, May 27, 2016.

  • Kirill Kudryavtsev / Reuters

    Russia's New Spaceport: The Vostochny Cosmodrome

    For the past five years, Russia has been building a new spaceport in its Far East, about 3,500 miles (5,500 kilometers) away from Moscow, called the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

  • Renaud Philippe

    Rebuilding Nepal by Hand

    The photographer Renaud Philippe returned to the epicenter of last year’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake to document what progress has been made in some of the hardest-to-reach villages.

  • Christian Charisius / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 4/23-4/29

    A shepherd pulls a lamb into the sea in Gaza City, President Obama meets Prince George in London, the aftermath of Ecuador’s earthquake, and much more.

Join the Discussion