In Praise Of: Documerica

Between 1971 and 1977, the fledgling EPA hired freelance photographers across the country to capture, “images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s.”  And that they did.  The result was both a baseline for how much work there was to be done, and an amazing collage of life in 1970s America.

Hitchhiker with His Dog "Tripper" on U.S. 66, May 1972

In light of recent attacks on the EPA, it’s a rather fitting reminder of just how much the EPA has done for this country.  There are thousands of photos that show exactly what happens without the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, CERCLA, RCRA, and the rest of the environmental suite.

Burning Discarded Automobile Batteries, 07/1972

This year, archive specialist Jerry Simmons dug up over 15,000 of these images and made them available to the public in digital form in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC).  Since 15,000 images in a government database is a bit of an aesthetic horror show, he also popped them into a Flickr account organized by photographer.  Check out the slideshow below for a sampling, and be sure to stop by Simmons’ favorites and the full archive.

Original captions are listed below, as reported by Jerry Simmons viaFlickr.  Click each image to view larger.

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This entry was published on January 11, 2012 at 10:00. It’s filed under In Praise Of..., Look and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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