Perm. Mary Magdalene Church


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, and urban scenes. This 1909 photograph shows the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in the city of Perm. The view is from the southwest, and clearly shows the imposing bell tower, the upper part of which has not survived. The church was built in 1889–92 as part of a large orphanage, and was designed in the style of the Italian Renaissance by Aleksandr B. Turchevich-Glumov (1855–1909). Funds for construction came largely from local merchants. In addition to its religious dedication, the church was also dedicated in honor of what was seen as the miraculous salvation of Tsar Alexander III and his family following a train derailment in 1888 in the south of Russia. The church was closed by Soviet authorities in the mid-1920s, and in 1930, the upper part of the structure was demolished as the church was converted for use as a technical college. The resulting form survives to the present and has none of the architectural virtues of the original. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Пермь. Церковь Марии Магдалины

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: September 28, 2016