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Color Photos of Russia… 100 Years Ago.

This is a collection of amazing color photographs from the vast Russian Empire made between ca. 1905 and 1915. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire.

He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. When these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.

Woman standing on a carpet, outside, near a tree. Between 1905 – 1915.



Molding of an artistic casting (Kasli Iron Works), 1910. From the album “Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire”. 




A woman is seated in a calm spot on the Sim River, part of the Volga watershed in 1910. 



Austrian prisoners of war near a barrack, [near Kiappeselga]. Circa 1915.




Isfandiyar Jurji Bahadur, Khan of the Russian protectorate of Khorezm (Khiva, now a part of modern Uzbekistan), full-length portrait, seated outdoors, ca. 1910.




On the Sim River, a shepherd boy. Photo taken in 1910, from the album “Views in the Ural Mountains, survey of industrial area, Russian Empire”.




Alternators made in Budapest, Hungary, in the power generating hall of a hydroelectric station in Iolotan (Eloten), Turkmenistan, on the Murghab River, ca. 1910.




Mills, circa 1912.




A group of women in Dagestan, ca. 1910.




General view of Artvin (now in Turkey) from the small town of Svet, ca. 1910.




Joining shop for the production of scabbards at the Zlatoust plant. 1910




General view of the Nikolaevskii Cathedral from southwest in Mozhaisk in 1911.




A group of Jewish children with a teacher in Samarkand, (in modern Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.




A switch operator poses on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, near the town of Ust Katav on the Yuryuzan River in 1910.




Prokudin-Gorskii, reclined on boulders, near rapids. 1915.




Laying concrete for the dam’s sluice, 1912. Workers and supervisors pose for a photograph amid preparations for pouring cement for sluice dam foundation across the Oka River near Beloomut.




Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich Prokudin-Gorskiĭ and two men in Cossak dress(?) seated on the ground. 1915.




General view of the wharf at Mezhevaya Utka, 1912.




Peasants harvesting hay in 1909. From the album “Views along the Mariinskii Canal and river system, Russian Empire”. 




Prokudin-Gorskii rides along on a handcar outside Petrozavodsk on the Murmansk railway along Lake Onega near Petrozavodsk in 1910.




A water-carrier in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan), ca. 1910.




Three young women offer berries to visitors to their izba, a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River, near the town of Kirillov. 1909.




Group of workers harvesting tea. Greek women.




Portion of Shir-Dar minaret and its dome from Tillia-Kari.




Church of the Resurrection in the Grove.




Cotton textile mill interior, probably in Tashkent.






Group of children. [Russian Empire] 1909.



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