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

  • Attila Balazs / MTI via AP

    Photos of the Week: 4/22–4/28

    Bats roosting in Israel, continued anti-government protests in Venezuela, Amazon’s glass spheres under construction in Seattle, ANZAC Day in Australia, and much more.

  • Christophe Simon / AFP / Getty

    Iraqi Christians Slowly Return to War-Damaged Qaraqosh

    In August of 2014, ISIS militants swept through towns near Mosul, Iraq, taking control and forcing thousands to flee. The Christian city of Qaraqosh was retaken by Iraqi forces in October of 2016, but the it remains almost completely deserted.

  • Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty

    Unrest in Kashmir Surges Once More

    Anti-government protests have escalated again in Indian-administered Kashmir, following violent clashes earlier this month.

  • Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

    The Masks We Wear

    We wear masks for many reasons: for fun, for protection, or to make a statement.

Join the Discussion