“Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” is showing in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Building, Washington, DC, until September 8, 2013.
These color photographs were taken for the Federal photography project called DOCUMERICA (1971–1977), created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). DOCUMERICA was born out of the decade’s environmental awakening and produced striking photographs of many of that era’s environmental problems and achievements. But it also captured the era’s trends, fashions, and cultural shifts.
“Black youths play basketball at Stateway Gardens’ highrise housing project on Chicago’s South Side. The complex has eight buildings with 1,633 two and three bedroom apartments housing 6,825 persons. They were built under the U.S. Housing Acts of 1949 and 1968. They are managed by the Chicago Housing Authority which is responsible for 41,500 public housing dwellings.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, May 1973.
“A Navajo construction worker at the Navajo Generating Plant. When completed, this will be the largest such plant in Arizona.” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Page, Arizona, May 1972
"Water cooling towers of the John Amos Power Plant loom over Poca, WV, home that is on the other side of the Kanawha River. Two of the towers emit great clouds of steam." Harry Schaefer, Poca, West Virginia, August 1973.
“Mr. and Mrs. Berry Howard of Cumberland, Kentucky, and the new truck he just bought with some of his black lung payments. He retired from the mines several years ago. The disease results from coal dust particles filling air sacs in the lungs and causes a progressive shortness of breath.” Jack Corn, Cumberland, Kentucky, October 1974.
“Cyclist in front of environmental center.” Tomas Sennett, Humboldt County, California, May 1972.
“Abandoned automobiles and other debris clutter an acid water and oil filled five acre pond. It was cleaned up under EPA supervision to prevent possible contamination of Great Salt Lake and a wildlife refuge nearby.” Bruce McAllister, near Ogden, Utah, April 1974.
“Mary Workman holds a jar of undrinkable water that comes from her well, and she has filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company. She has to transport water from a well many miles away although the coal company owns all the land around her, and many roads are closed, she refuses to sell.” Erik Calonius, near Steubenville, Ohio, October 1973.
“Housing adjacent to U.S. Steel plant.” Leroy Woodson, Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972.
“Chicano teenager in El Paso’s Second Ward. A classic ‘Barrio’ which is slowly giving way to urban renewal.” Danny Lyon, El Paso, Texas, May 1972.
“Stanton Street in the second ward, the Spanish-speaking section.” Danny Lyon, El Paso, Texas, June 1972.
“Taking shelter during a dust storm.” Terry Eiler, Arizona, May 1972.
“Arizona—Navajo nation.” Terry Eiler, May 1972.
“Gasoline stations abandoned during the fuel crisis in winter of 1973–74 were sometimes used for other purposes. This station at Potlatch, Washington, west of Olympia was turned into a religious meeting hall. Signs painted on the gas pumps proclaim ‘Fill up with the Holy Ghost . . . and Salvation.’” David Falconer, Potlatch, Washington, April 1974.
“Country’s fuel shortage led to problems for motorists in finding gas as well as paying much more for it, and resulted in theft from cars left unprotected. This father and son, made a sign warning thieves of the possible consequences.” David Falconer, Portland, Oregon, April 1974.
"Industrial smog blacks out homes adjacent to North Birmingham pipe plant. This is the most heavily polluted area of the city." Leroy Woodson, Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972.
“U.S. Pipe Co., Birmingham. Closed by EPA. View from 1st Ave., No[rth] overpass. Plant now owned by city of Birmingham, may be turned into a museum.” Al Stephenson, Birmingham, Alabama, June 1977.
“Religious fervor is mirrored on the face of a Black Muslim woman, one of some 10,000 listening to Elijah Muhammad deliver his annual Savior’s Day message in Chicago. The city is headquarters for the Black Muslims. Their $75 million Empire includes a mosque, newspaper, university, restaurants, real estate, bank, and variety of retail stores. Muhammad died February 25, 1975.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, March 1974.
“Black products was one of the themes at the annual Black Expo held in Chicago. Also present were black education, talent, a voter registration drive and other aspects of black consciousness. The aim is to make blacks more aware of their heritage and capabilities and help them towards a better life.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, October 1973.
“Young woman soliciting funds for a Chicago organization in a shopping center parking lot. She is one of the 1.2 million black people who make up over one-third of the population of Chicago. It is one of the many black faces in this project that portray life in all its seasons. The photos are portraits that reflect pride, love, beauty, hope, struggle, joy, hate, frustration, discontent, worship, and faith. She is a member of her race who is proud of her heritage.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, August 1973
“Black youngsters cool off with fire hydrant water on Chicago’s South Side in the Woodlawn community. The kids don’t go to the city beaches and use the fire hydrants to cool off instead. It’s a tradition in the community, comprised of very low income people. The area has high crime and fire records. From 1960 to 1970 the percentage of Chicago blacks with income of $7,000 or more jumped from 26% to 58%.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, June 1973.
“A senior citizens march to protest inflation, unemployment and high taxes stopped along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to hear speeches from various officials. The rally was headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation Push.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, October 1973.
“A black man who is jobless sits on the windowsill of a building in a high crime area on Chicago’s South Side. He has nothing to do and nowhere to go. This scene contrasts with the publications which list the city as the ‘black business Mecca of the world.’ In early 1975 some 16% of blacks were believed to be out of work, double the rate of white unemployment. Black owned businesses in Chicago in 1970 grossed $332 million from 8,750 businesses.” John H. White, Chicago, Illinois, July 1973.
“The cook at the Texan CafeÌ watches the snow removal crew at work.” David Hiser, Rifle, Colorado, January 1973.
“The painted bus is home.” David Hiser, Rifle, Colorado, October 1972.
“Frank Starbuck, Last of the old time ranchers near Fairview manages a spread of 1300 acres and 400 head of cattle. He does it alone because it is too difficult and expensive to get help.” David Hiser, near Rifle, Colorado, October 1972.
“Hickory Town Hall and polling place.” Arthur Greenberg, Hickory, Illinois, June 1973.
“Great Kills Park, Staten Island” Arthur Tress, Staten Island, NewYork, May 1973.
“Breezy Point, Long Island.” Arthur Tress, Long Island, New York, May 1973.
“Dockhand aboard barge.” Paul Sequeira, Chicago, Illinois, May 1973.#
“California—Rocky Point.” Dick Rowan, California, May 1972.
"Chemical plants on shore are considered prime source of pollution." Marc St. Gil, Lake Charles, Louisiana, June 1972.
“Two girls smoking pot during an outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas. (Taken with permission.) One of nine pictures near San Antonio.” Marc St. Gil, Leakey, Texas, May 1973.
“EPA Gulf Breeze laboratory biologist is dip netting for contaminated female shrimp. This is for a study of whether PCB is passed on to their offspring.” Bill Shrout, Florida, July 1972.
“Photograph of a bride and her attendants in New Ulm, Minnesota.” Art Hanson, New Ulm, Minnesota, October 1974.
“Michigan Avenue, Chicago.” Perry Riddle, Chicago, Illinois, July 1975.
“Italian neighborhood, Chicago near southwest side.” Perry Riddle, Chicago, Illinois, July 1975.
“Unloading a container ship at Dundalk Marine Terminal.” Jim Pickerell, Dundalk, Maryland, June 1973.
“Alta Youth Conservation Corps working on trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon.” Bruce McAllister, Alta, Utah, June 1972.
“This woman lives on a dairy farm near Randolph Center, Vermont, that has been owned by the family for six generations. Low milk prices and increasing property taxes threaten her way of life.” Jane Cooper, Randolph Center, Vermont, June 1974.
"Children play in yard of Ruston home, while Tacoma smelter stack showers area with arsenic and lead residue." Gene Daniels, Ruston, Washington, August 1972.
“Dorothy Thierolf, Ocean Beach businesswoman and leader of the fight to reopen nearby beach to auto traffic. To protect clam beds the state government had banned cars from a short stretch of beach during the summer months on August 12, 1972. Ms Thierolf led a demonstration in which 200 cars drove two miles through the prohibited section of the beach to protest the ban.” Gene Daniels, Ocean Beach, Washington, August 1972
“Datsun being unloaded.” Gene Daniels, Terminal Island, California, May 1972.
“Auto dump.” Gene Daniels, Escondido, California, April 1972
“Exhibit at the first symposium on low pollution power systems development held at the Marriott Motor Inn, Ann Arbor. Vehicles and hardware were assembled at the EPA Ann Arbor Laboratory. Part of the exhibit was held in the motel parking lot. Photo shows participants looking over the ESB ‘Sundancers,’ an experimental electric car.” Frank Lodge, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 1973.
“Near the town of Wisconsin Dells the Wisconsin River channels through deep, soft sandstone cliffs, cutting rock into fantastic shapes. These natural splendors have given rise to a booming tourist industry. People come in droves, often in campers and trailers. Boat trips, shops, bars, and diversions of every kind vie for patronage in an amusement complex extending 2 or 3 miles beyond the town.” Jonas Dovydenas, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, September 1973.
“Spring roundup of Paiute-owned cattle begins at Sutcliffe, Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. Coralling [sic] and branding is done in five stages around Pyramid Lake. Posing for the Photographer.” Jonas Dovydenas, Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, Nevada, June 1973.
“Inexpensive retirement hotels are a hallmark of the South Beach area. A favored place is the front porch, where residents sit and chat or watch the activities on the beach.” Flip Shulke, South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, June 1973.
“The Staley’s [sic], residents of suburban Lakewood, recently spruced up the doors of their 50-year-old garage with red, white, and blue paint.” Frank Aleksandrowicz, Lakewood, Ohio, April 1973.
“In the spring of 1973 the Mississippi River reached it highest level in more than 150 years. Unprecedented flooding occurred throughout the river basin. Particularly affected were the marsh area below New Orleans and the entire Atchafalaya River basin. Stevensville children in front of a trenched house. Owner dug trench and formed levee to protect house from flood waters.” John Messina, Stevensville, Louisiana, May 1973.
“Lovell Street homes in jet aircraft landing pattern.” Michael Philip Manheim, Boston, Massachusetts, May 1973.
“Sandra Bruno straightens a pillow in the immaculate living room of her family’s home at 39 Neptune Road.” Michael Philip Manheim, Boston, Massachusetts, July 1973.
“Veteran miner Harold Stanley, right, talks to a young miner who has come into the mine for the first time after 40 hours of classroom training. Stanley placed his hand on the new man, shined his lamp in the miners face and said, ‘Be alert, be safe, and uns (you) will be a good miner and get along just fine.’ This is Virginia-Pocahontas Coal Company Mine #3, near Richlands, Virginia.” Jack Corn, Richlands, Virginia, April 1974.
“Jack Smith, 42, a disabled miner who lives in Rhodell, West Virginia, shown with one of his daughters, Debra, in the tavern he now operates. He had worked in the mines one year when his legs were crushed in a roof cave in. It took him 18 years to receive workman’s compensation. His wheelchair was bought for him by his friend, Arnold Miller, now President of the United Mine Workers. Smith is active in the union, and has manned picket lines in the past.” Jack Corn, Rhodell, West Virginia, June 1974
“Miners waiting for their examination at the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, West Virginia. Dr. Donald Rasmussen’s black lung laboratory uses known testing methods to determine if miners are suffering from the disease which results from coal dust filling lung sacs and causing progressive shortening of breath. The lab, with funds paid mainly by the United Mine Workers union, is well known to all coal miners who come from several states.” Jack Corn, Beckley, West Virginia, June 1974.
“Clarice Brown, 19, is a secretary in the United Mine Workers field Services office in Charleston, West Virginia. Her father was a miner who died of black lung disease, caused by shortage of breath as the lung sacs are filled with coal dust.” Jack Corn, Charleston, West Virginia, April 1974.
“Strip Mining on Indian burial grounds by Peabody Coal Co.” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Black Mesa, Arizona, May 1972.
“Arizona—near Page” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Page, Arizona, May 1972.
“Arizona—Holbrook” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Holbrook, Arizona, June 1972.
“Young woman watches as her car goes through testing at an auto emission inspection station in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. All light duty, spark ignition powered motor vehicles are tested annually for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions, and given a safety check. All other vehicles registered in the city receive an annual safety check. The emissions test on an exhaust analyzer went into effect in January 1975; the safety test has been in effect since 1940.” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Cincinnati, Ohio, September 1975.
“’D’aug Days (pronounced dog) is a month long presentation of all the arts at downtown Cincinnati’s immensely popular public plaza, Fountain Square. Dancers from New Media Theater, a Cincinnati group.” Tom Hubbard, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1973.
“Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati is a public square that works for the city and its people in a myriad of ways: Saturday afternoon.” Tom Hubbard, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1973.
“Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati is a public square that works for the city and its people in a myriad of ways: Distributing Hare Krishna literature at the Israeli birthday celebration.” Tom Hubbard, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1973.
“Far out style setters groove to music of Fountain Square.” Tom Hubbard, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 1973.
“Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati is a public square that works for the city and its people in a myriad of ways: a flower vender has made a sale,” Tom Hubbard, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1973.
“Midtown traffic congestion and jaywalking pedestrians.” Dan McCoy, NewYork, NewYork, April 1973.
“Looking out at Main Street in Eastport.” Lee Lockwood, Eastport, Maine, May 1973.
“Migrant worker with his grandchildren in front of two room shack which houses three families (20 people). This man and his family follow the crops north from Texas each year. His present job is weeding sugar beets at $2.00 an hour.” Bill Gillette, Fort Collins, Colorado, June 1972.
“Housing development encroaches upon farm land.” Bill Gillette, Fort Collins, Colorado, June 1972.
“Hitchhiker with his dog, ‘Tripper,’ on U.S. 66. U.S. 66 crosses the Colorado River at Topock.” Charles O’Rear, Yuma County, Arizona, May 1972
“Baptism ceremony performed by members of North Las Vegas ‘Church of God in Christ.’” Charles O’Rear, Lake Mead, Clark County, Nevada, May 1972.