Documerica Looks Back


Chester Higgins, Jr./ Documerica. The George Washington Bridge in 1973Chester Higgins, Jr./ Documerica. The George Washington Bridge in 1973

In 1972, some 70 documentary photographers were hired by the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency to roam the country taking pictures of subjects or scenes related to environmental problems. It was known as the Documerica project, and the U.S. National Archives has digitized more than 15,000 of those photographs to view online. Much of the archive was digitized last year, but the site got boost in viewership after the new music quartet Ethel performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last weekend and used selection of those photographs as part of a multi-media performance. Danny Lyon, Arthur Tress, Chester Higgins, Jr., and Flip Schulke are just a few of the photographers who participated. The images can be seen on the National Archives site, and a selection can be found on Flickr. The EPA launched round two in 2011, which runs through 2013, called State of the Environment Photography Project, allowing people to share their environmental photographs through Flickr. Prepare to lose yourself in this endlessly absorbing trove of photos.