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Spotlight: Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project

Spotlight: Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project

View the 1970s through the lens of a Federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA

documerica WADC-Ruston August 1972 (Gene Daniels/DOCUMERICA)

What You’ll Find

A rare look into a dynamic time in U.S. history, 1971-1977, with a new exhibit at the National Archives — “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.” The exhibit is on display from March 8 through September 8, 2013. Created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOCUMERICA was born from the decade’s environmental awakening, producing striking color photographs of many of that era’s environmental troubles and achievements. Drawing its inspiration from the depression-era Farm Security Administration’s photography project, photographers created a portrait of America in the early- and mid-1970s. They took shots of small towns in the Midwest, barrios in the Southwest and coal mining communities in Appalachia. Their assignments were as varied as African American life in Chicago, urban renewal in Kansas City, commuters in Washington, DC, and migrant farm workers in Colorado.

Getting There

The National Archives is located on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets in Washington, DC. The nearest Metro (mass rail transit) stop is Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter. The Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery is located on the main level.

For those unable to visit the Gallery in person, you can experience the 1970s by browsing the Archival Research Catalog where more than 15,000 images are available for viewing.

Make Sure You

Visit the National Archives Experience while you are at the National Archives. The National Archives Experience is home to the Charters of Freedom--Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can reserve a timed entry or a group tour (up to 15 spaces) in advance. Read the National Archives January 28 press release for additional highlights about this exhibit.

Try This

Enjoy a film or book discussion at the Archives and learn more about the development of the modern environmental movement. On Friday, April 19, 1970s talk show host Dick Cavett will discuss his book Talk Show, and recount great moments with the legendary entertainers and politicians who crossed his path. For more information about these and other programs, please visit the National Archives calendar of events.

Don’t Forget

DOCUMERICA photos include expected images of smog, polluted rivers, and waste dumps. But the photos also capture the decade’s fashions, trends and lifestyles. From smokestacks to bell bottoms and leisure suits, these images are a fascinating time capsule of 1970s America.

Get Started

Nearly 16,000 DOCUMERICA images have been digitized by the National Archives and are available online by:

Many DOCUMERICA images are also on Flickr.