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Historical Photos and Images
State of the Environment Photo Project
In the 1970s, EPA began Documerica, a project that hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life. Documerica ultimately collected over 15,000 photos that serve the agency and the public as a visual baseline for comparing how our environment looked then, with how it looks now and in the future.
From April 2011 through 2013, we're revitalizing the project and inviting you to submit photos of the state of your environment. Submit your best images for a chance to be featured in the effort and in the National Archives Documerica Exhibit planned for March - September 2013 in Washington D.C.
EPA's Documerica Project (1971-77). In the early '70s, just after the birth of EPA and the environmental movement, the agency initiated Project Documerica to record the state of the environment and efforts to improve it. By 1974, Documerica had produced more than 81,000 photographs by more than 100 photographers. The strongest 22,000-plus images were catalogued by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and made available to publications nationwide. About 15,000 of these images are now online.View Documerica photos:Tossing a frisbee on a smoke-filled street in North Birmingham, AL (July 1972; Leroy Woodson, photographer) Hollywood freeway (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Smog (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) The Kaiser Aluminum Plant smokestack, behind the Catholic church, belches fumes over the residential area in the Chalmette section of New Orleans (March 1973; John Messina, photographer) Fresno County, California does not provide a dumping place for chemical containers. This rancher's pile of chemical drums has grown over a 3-year period. (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Sulfur-dusting of grape vines near Fresno (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Hillside dump near Sonora, California (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Pile of wrecked autos at Klean Steel Co., Long Beach, California (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Spilled sulphur on ground at T-M-T Chemical Company, Fresno County, California (May 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Fish killed by water pollution, Grand Lake, Colorado (June 1972; Bill Gillette, photographer) Oil in water of this canyon near Lake Powell, Utah, is the result of an oil spill on the San Juan River more than 200 miles away. (October 1972; David Hiser, photographer) Effluent from pulp mills pollutes the Columbia River near Longview, Washington. (September 1972; Gene Daniels, photographer) Sum along shore near Lake Tahoe, Nevada (May 1972; Belinda Rain, photographer)
- Slideshow of a small sample of 13 Documerica photos
- From the National Archives:
Other NARA photos relating to environmental topics like acid rain, cancer and the environment, the Love Canal disaster, oil spills, ozone, recycling, Three Mile Island and water pollution.
Superfund 30th anniversary timeline (to view the slideshow, click on "1978", and then the photo on the left)