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

  • Evaristo Sa / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 5/21-5/27

    Estonia’s triplet Olympic Marathoners, protests in France, US special operations forces in Syria, the National Spelling Bee in Maryland, a thousand Indian Runner ducks in a South African vineyard, and much more.

  • Jean Chung / Getty

    Hiroshima Today

    Images and portraits from present-day Hiroshima

  • China Daily / China Daily China Daily Infor / Reuters

    A Collection of Kisses

    One of the most intimate human gestures, a kiss can convey greetings, give comfort, express joy, and above all, show love.

  • Marco Marchioni / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

    2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, Part II

    The deadline to enter the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is fast approaching—entries will be accepted until May 27, 2016.

Join the Discussion