Based on an exhibition at the National Archives, Washington, DC March 12, 1999-July 4, 2001
Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island . . . the Wright Brothers fly . . . building the Empire State Building . . . a Depression-era soup line . . . Omaha Beach . . . the mushroom cloud . . . Lyndon Johnson taking the Presidential oath . . . a young marine in Da Nang . . . footprints on the Moon . . . war in the Persian Gulf . . .
Old photographs are time machines. They allow us to look back in history, freeze a moment in time, and imagine ourselves as part of the past. Through historic photographs we can see how famous and ordinary folk appeared in both posed and unguarded moments. We can relive great events and everyday life in exquisite detail. We can learn how people dressed and carried themselves and sometimes judge their moods. Studying photographs helps us imagine what it was like when the first airplane took off, when a landing craft ramp fell open on D-day, or when the first man stepped onto the Moon.
"Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years
of Photography from the National Archives," commemorates the end
of the 20th century with a selection of photographs from the vast and
varied holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration
(NARA). NARA photographs vividly capture the sweeping changes of the
last one hundred years. They depict both the mundane and high political
drama, society's failings as well as its triumphs, war's ugliness as
well as its bravery. This exhibition is arranged in chronological "galleries"
as well as seven "portfolios" of talented photographers well
represented in NARA's holdings.