Work at the Bakalskii Mine


In 1909 and 1910, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled extensively in the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural landscapes. Among the industrial enterprises he documented were the Bakal iron mines, located on the western slope of Mount Irkuskan in the southwestern Urals (in present-day Chelyabinsk Oblast). This expressive photograph shows a peasant family at work there, extracting iron-rich earth from the side of an open excavation. On the left, a young girl rests with a brooding expression and holds a ceramic cup next to a black pot. Her head is covered with a printed kerchief, and she is wearing a large jacket with a red skirt protected by an overgarment. The head of the household has a beard and a hat; he leans on a long shovel. His wife holds the reins of a white horse hitched to a crude cart. A boy stands next to a similar cart on the right. The family are shod in bast shoes (lapty) with leg wrappings. Tracks along the upper levels are edged with birch logs. 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

Работа на Бакальском руднике

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