The Effects of Coal Mining, Visualized: Social

Between 1972 and 1974, an Environmental Protection Agency photography initiative called Documerica sought to capture areas of environmental concern in the 1970s. The photographs in this slideshow were taken primarily in the Appalachian regions of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

How do these images tell a story about the transition from underground mining to surface mining?

What do they reveal about the consequences of these two types of extraction?

Do you see connections between the human, environmental, and technical aspects and impacts of coal mining in these images?


Environmental Protection Agency, DOCUMERICA: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Program to Photographically Document Subjects of Environmental Concern, 1972-1977. Record Group 412: Records of the Environmental Protection Agency, 1944-2006.

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Teaching Unit: 

Late 20th Century Coal Mining