The National Archives challenges students to create multimedia projects inspired by Documerica environmental photos. Compete in 3 age groups and submit in the Graphic Art, Video, or Poetry category.

Document your environment and express your point of view.  Snap a photo, write a poem, design a graphic, or create a multimedia video to share how you see the state of the environment today.

In the 1970s, The Environmental Protection Agency hired freelance photographers to capture environmental issues and challenges in the United States.  Forty years later, we are still concerned with how we treat the world we live in.  The National Archives invites students ages 13 and up to seek inspiration from one of these photos and start creating the next generation of Documerica records.  The original Documerica photos can now be found at the National Archives, which has digitized more than 15,000 of these photos, many of which are available on Flickr and in our online catalog).  Today, the National Archives and the EPA have continued this spirit of capturing the environment and life through their recent project, State of the Environment.

Students are invited to create a multimedia representation of a Documerica photo for this contest.  Any Documerica photo found at the National Archives can be used as an inspiration.  All entries must include the ARC identifier or NARA identifier of one Documerica photo in the submission information to be considered a valid entry.

There are three categories of submissions: graphic art, videos, and poetry will be judged in three age divisions of 13-15, 16-18, and 18+ students (to include college and graduate students).  All entries must be the original work of the student, and student ages 13-18 must have the consent of a legal guardian.  Winners in the 18+ age group will be asked to provide enrollment verification from their school, college, or university.

Graphic Art: This category covers any type of graphic art, including scans of paintings, photos, cartoons, photo mash-ups, etc.  All entries must be sent as .jpgs, and high resolution (300 dpi) copies must be available.

Video: This category can include documentary-like videosand  more artistic approaches to the contest.  All entries must be less than two minutes in length.  Videos must be uploaded to YouTube and entered into the contest with a link to the video.  Helpful links for YouTube:

Poetry:  Any form of poetry is accepted in this category, but there is a 300 word limit to each entry.  Poems must be submitted in either a PDF or Word doc format.

View full rules

How to enter

  1. Read the contest rules and choose a Documerica photo that inspires you (Documerica photos can be found online in the Flickr Commons or in our online catalog).
  2. Create an account on or log in to an existing account.
  3. Between Tuesday, November 1, 2011 and Friday, January 6, 2012 (midnight EST) post a submission to the contest on The description should include the Documerica photographer name and identifier (for example: Michael Philip Manheim, Local Identifier 412-DA-11429 or Eric Calonius, ARC ID 554798).
  4. All entrants must include (in the submission description) the age group and category that they are submitting an entry in.
  5. All entrants agree to the official rules by submitting an entry.
  6. Any entrant under the age of 18 must submit a Parent Consent Form by the close of the contest on January 6, 2012, or the entry will not be eligible for judging.
  7. All entrants in the 18+ student age group will be required to provide enrollment verification from their school, college, or university upon notification of being selected as a finalist.
  8. For photos, upload the highest resolution image possible. We recommend 300 dpi or higher. The entries may be used in various contexts, and high resolution images produce the best results.
  9. For videos, upload to YouTube first, and then link to your video in the submission form. Helpful links for YouTube:
  10. For poems, upload a PDF or Word doc file to


David S. Ferriero

David S. Ferriero
Archivist of the United States

Graphic Art - Michael Philip Manheim

Graphic Art - Michael Philip Manheim
Artist and Original Documerica Photographer

Video - Cokie Roberts

Video - Cokie Roberts
Author & News Analyst, NPR & ABC News

Poetry - Sandra Alcosser

Poetry - Sandra Alcosser
Poet, Author, and Professor

Judging Criteria

  • Document Your Environment Judging Criteria
    ・Artistic originality ・Technical skill ・Perspective and understanding of the environmentalist themes conveyed in the original Documerica project