Searching for the Seventies

A Distinctive Decade

The DOCUMERICA Photography Project began as a functional programme set up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and evolved into a striking historical document recording the environmental problems and achievements of 1970s America in stunning detail. Driven by an uprising of ethical concern around the plight of the planet, the photographs tell a story with several layers, depicting coal mining communities in Appalachia, polluted rivers and public protests. The insightful images reflect American life from every angle, examining not only the changing landscape but also the developing cultural attitudes towards women, sexuality, marriage and the family at the time. These photographs are exhibited together in Searching for the Seventies under three headings, highlighting the various trends of the era. Ball of Confusion, Everybody Is a Star and Pave Paradise examine the thoughts, appearances and homes of American society respectively. The following images are excerpts from this exhibition being held at Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, National Archives Building, Washington DC, until 8 September.