16 Photographs That Capture the Best and Worst of 1970s America
A new exhibit at the National Archives highlights an interesting decade—one that gave rise to the environmental movement and some awkward fashion
- By Megan Gambino
- Smithsonian.com, March 08, 2013
(“Young woman watches as her car goes through testing at an auto emission inspection station in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.” Lyntha Scott Eiler, Cincinnati, OH, September 1975. Credit: National Archives)
From 1971 to 1977, DOCUMERICA contracted 70 photographers. All combined, they logged 115 assignments in every region of the country, totaling more than 20,000 images. “There are a lot of expected images. You see photographs of smog, junkyards, polluted streams and dead fish,” says Bustard of the collection, now held at the National Archives. “But, DOCUMERICA had a broader vision of what the environment was. The photographs also capture the decade’s fashions, trends and lifestyles.”
“Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” a new exhibition at the National Archives, features about 90 color photographs culled from the collection. The landscapes and portraits were reproduced from preserved Kodachrome and Ektachrome originals, and, as a result, show the vivid colors of the times (and, of course, the baby blue leisure suits).
“Memories may fade and shift, but the records preserved in the National Archives help us to uncover how things really looked,” says David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States.
View this selection of photographs from “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives through September 8, 2013. Other images can be found, here, on Flickr.