Mugan. Settlement of Petropavlovskoe. A Street (Seventy-Seven Households)

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph shows Petropavlovskoe, the first Russian settlement in the Mugan region (in present-day Azerbaijan), which was founded in 1887 at the confluence of the Kura and Araks rivers. During its early years, the settlement was nearly destroyed by flooding from the Araks. Life was very difficult for the early settlers, who were not accustomed to the hot climate of the steppe and fell prey to many diseases.

Vitebsk. Part of the City with the Western Dvina

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii shows the city of Vitebsk, which is located in present-day Belarus near the border with Russia and Latvia. In the early 1900s, Vitebsk was a commercial and industrial center, connected by railroad to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. Its population of 81,000 included Russians, Belarusians, Latvians, Poles, and Jews. The iron bridge with stone supports was constructed in 1863–67, and was the first permanent bridge across the Western Dvina River, which runs through the city. Portraits of Vitebsk and its people appear in many paintings by Marc Chagall, who was born there in 1887.

Vitebsk. General View of the Southern Part of the City

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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.

Vitebsk. Iconostasis in the Assumption Cathedral

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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.

Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery for Women, Three Versts from the City of Polotsk. View from the South

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph depicts the Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery for women, with the Krestovozdvizhenski Cathedral, built in 1897, in the center. Located near Polotsk in present-day Belarus, the monastery was founded in the 12th century by the Polotsk princess, Evfrosinia, who served as its mother superior for 45 years and to whom the monastery later was dedicated. Polotsk was taken over by the Polish Commonwealth in 1579, and the monastery came under the control of the Roman Catholic Jesuits. In 1772, after the first partition of Poland, Polotsk passed to the Russian Empire. A few years later, the Spaso-Evfrosinevskii Monastery was given back to the Russian Orthodox Church. Despite the turbulent history of the monastery, some of the 12th-century frescos have been preserved.  Local art historians believe that one of the frescoes depicts Evfrosinia herself.

Mill and Dam on the Polot River

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s 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.

Harvested Field

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph shows a harvested field with neatly arranged sheaves of grain in the Polotsk region of present-day Belarus. Although by 1900 Russia had the fifth-largest economy in the world, 80 percent of its people were peasants who lived in villages and farmed with traditional implements such as wooden ploughs. Wheat and oats were the crops most commonly grown in the Polotsk region. Prokudin-Gorskii took the photograph in 1912, as part of his survey of sites where, a century earlier, Russian forces had battled the invading armies of the French Emperor Napoleon.

Armenian Women (Catholics) in Customary Dress. Artvin

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph, taken in the town of Artvin (the Black Sea region, in present-day Turkey), depicts two Armenian women dressed in everyday clothes. Traditionally, women in this community made their clothes themselves, handing down their skills in embroidery and lace making from mother to daughter. Expected to be modest and virtuous, women wore long dresses with an apron, and covered their head with a kerchief. Artvin is located in a narrow gorge, with the houses vertically attached to the slopes, and is surrounded by fruit orchards and olive groves. In the early 1900s, most of the town’s population were Armenian Catholics.

Earth, as Seen by Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmidt from Apollo 17

The Apollo 17 mission, which took place December 7-19, 1972, was the last of the missions to the moon carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald B. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt undertook the mission, which lasted 12 days, 13 hours, and 52 minutes and included a lunar surface stay of 75 hours. The lunar landing site was the highlands and valley area of Taurus-Littrow (20º 16’ north latitude, 30º 77’ east longitude). The mission gathered 110.4 kilograms of lunar material and set up NASA’s sixth automated research station. This photograph shows the earth as it would have appeared to the astronauts on their journey home.

View from River Valley, "Canyon de Chelly" National Monument, Arizona (Vertical Orientation) by Ansel Adams

In 1941 the U.S. National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) to create a photographic mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the national parks and national monuments of the United States. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. The holdings of the Still Picture Branch of the U.S. National Archives include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams. Photographs of Kings Canyon National Park were taken in 1936, when establishment of the park was being proposed, and added by Adams to the mural project. The single photograph of Yosemite was a gift from Adams to the head of the National Park Service, Horace Albright, in 1933. Shown here is a view of Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona, established in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover after approval by Congress and the Tribal Council of the Navajo Nation. Canyon de Chelly is located entirely on Navajo Tribal Trust Land and remains home to a Navajo community.