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Heavy smog in Los Angeles, 1973.

DOCUMERICA was a program sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to "photographically document subjects of environmental concern" in the USA from about 1972 to 1977.

Women smoking pot, Texas, 1973.
Gas shortage due to oil crisis, Portland, OR, 1973.

The images were made by approximately 70 well-known photographers contracted by the EPA for this project. Photographers included Danny Lyon, Gene Daniels, Marc St. Gil, Anne LaBastille, Bill Strode, Charles O'Rear, Jack Corn, Tomas Sennett, Erik Calonius, Yoichi Okamoto, Ken Hayman, and John H. White.

Some of the subjects photographed are urban cityscapes, everyday life in small towns, scenes of natural beauty including beaches and mountains, urban areas including junk yards, pollution treatment, highways, air quality and heavy industry; Amtrak; air and water pollution; waterfronts; mining and logging scenes; farms; and people, including workers in industry, environmental protection, farming, and mining. Among the areas included are National Parks and Forests, environmentally sensitive areas that were under development or considered for government protection, the planned route of the Alaska Pipeline, Hawaii and Washington, D.C.. The project even included some photographs of Canada, Yugoslavia and Austria[1]


Like the photographers of the Federal photographic project of the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression, some of the DOCUMERICA photographers interpreted their mission rather broadly, and sometimes artistically. Many of the photographs preserve a distinct visual record of time and place.

Digital scans of over 15,000 of the original 35 mm color slides and black and white negatives and prints are available through the National Archives and Records Administration's Archival Research Catalog.[2]

The color of many of the original negatives has degraded.

The book Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project (D Giles, 2013), edited by Bruce I. Bustard, features 100 images from the project.

In 2013 the string quartet ETHEL created a multimedia show called ETHEL's Documerica which incorporated images from the DOCUMERICA archives.[3] The show premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and is currently on a national tour.[4][5]



  1. ^ "EAP decommission - Adapt". 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  2. ^ In "Scope & Contents" page for series DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency's Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, compiled 1972 - 1977, ARC Identifier 542493 / Local Identifier 412-DA; Series from Record Group 412: Records of the Environmental Protection Agency, 1944 - 2000. Record of holdings available from the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) of the National Archives and Records Administration under the ARC Identifier 542493. Accessed February 18, 2009.
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