Migrant Farmstead in the Settlement of Spassky. Golodnaia Steppe


In 1911, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) traveled to an area of Central Asia then known as Turkestan where he photographed Islamic architectural monuments as well as Russian development projects. Among the primary initiators of such projects was Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich (1850–1918), grandson of Nicholas I, who moved to Tashkent in 1881. There he sponsored a number of projects, including a vast irrigation scheme to make Golodnaia Steppe (“Hungry Steppe,” in contemporary Uzbekistan) a productive area for raising cotton and wheat. A related goal was to provide arable land to attract Russian settlers, but conditions in the region were harsh. Shown here are the simple stuccoed structures of a farmstead at the settlement of Spasskii (the Russian word for “Savior”). Rows of poplar trees have been planted to provide shade and shelter from the steppe winds. The overgrown area around the buildings shows no signs of cultivation. 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

Переселенческий хутор в Спасском поселке. Голодная степь

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 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/.

Last updated: November 1, 2016