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From the archives: Life in the Russian Empire

Pioneering Russian photographer captured thousands of images in the early 20th century, as Tsarist rule was drawing to a close.

IN THE EARLY 20th century, Russian photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii undertook a trip across the vast Russian Empire, cataloguing life across the land under the blessing Tsar’s blessing.

The following photographs are part of a collection of over 2,500 images Prokudin-Gorskii took between 1905 and 1915, in the dying years of Tsarist rule – a collection which features some of his pioneering experiments with colour photography.

The images depicting rural life, Russian towns, churches and public works were purchased by the US Library of Congress from the photographer’s son in 1948, four years after Prokudin-Gorskii’s death.

From the archives: Life in the Russian Empire
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  • Russian Empire

    Bashkir woman in a folk costume, 1910. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Aleksandr Svirskii Monastery, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Church of Saint John the Precursor on Malyshevaia Hill, Staraia Ladoga, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Church of the Resurrection on the Blood, Saint Petersburg, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Dinner during haying, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Karelian locals, 1915. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Mill near the town of Lugi Saint Petersburg province, between 1905 and 1915. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    The photographer with two men, Murman, 1915. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    On the deckhouse of the steamboat Sheksna of the MPS, 1909. The photographer with two men, Murman, 1915. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Ostrechiny, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Three girls, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Rafts on the Peter the Great Canal in the city of Shlisselburg, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Two icons in the Church of the Prophet Elijah, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Type of Olonetsk man in Vytegra, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Wooden Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. The village of Pidma, 1909. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Russian Empire

    Work at the Bakalskii mine, 1910. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

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