Documerica: How Environmental Photography Captured an Era

Student: Ingrid Buckley
Major: History
Minor: Environmental Studies
Advisor: Margaret Ng
Documerica was a government sponsored photographic project created under the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency. It spanned the years of 1972-1977, helping to shape and define an era of heightened environmental consciousness in the United States. Reminiscent of the Farm Security Administration’s photographic project in the 1930s, Documerica’s mission was to record the impact of modern human life on the environment, echoing the new agency’s goal of “social change through powerful photography.”[1] This paper draws on existing scholarship within the fields of environmental and photographic history, and also incorporates an original analysis of the photographs, the experience of photographers, and considers the complex dialogue that existed between the Documerica office, the EPA, and the larger governmental structures in place.

[1] Steven Hoelscher, “American Environmental Photography,” in The American Environment Revisited: Environmental Historical Geographies of the United States. ed. G.L. Buckley and Y. Youngs (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), 295.
Ingrid will be online to field comments on May 8:
Noon-2pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium, Independent Study.