Analyzing Photographs from Across A Changing Nation
From 1976-1981, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) sponsored a program of photographic surveys in 55 communities in 30 states across the United States to celebrate the bicentennial of the country’s founding. These surveys created a new visual record of a changing nation. Survey projects included preserving or working with historical collections; however, most were commissions of new work by an emerging generation of documentarians, many of whom became prominent figures of American photography.
The below activities offer students multiple opportunities to analyze the photographs captured during the original survey projects and create their own interpretations of places near and far to them. These materials were developed as part of a partnership between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and includes a lesson plan available at EDSITEment entitled Visual Records of a Changing Nation.