As I was looking through the collection of photographs in the Library of Congress site I c0uld not help but be amazed by the detail that was apparent at one hundred years old! The color and definition would not be out of place taken from a modern camera. After viewing these amazing pictures my next question was could Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky have known that these pictures would be such a great historical record? Taken just a few years before the Russian Empire was thrust into a tumultuous civil war they provide a window into a very different Russia than what was apparent under the Soviet regime. I realized after looking through dozens of photos though that Prokudin-Gorsky could not have known what would be important in history so he simply tried to capture it all, and he actually did a great job of that. Because there is so much it is easy to see what life in Russia was like around the turn of the twentieth century and historians everywhere owe him a huge thank you.
This particular image caught my attention because although it was a village, named Kolchedin, it featured a prominent church in the background. This village of Kolchedin was already over two hundred years old at the time of the photo and had become a central point for sandstone mining in the Ural Mountains. But even though it was village in one of the further parts of the empire it still featured rich Russian architecture that was evident in the design of the church. This depth of culture is something that we don’t really get to see in the United States because we are a much younger country, but also because we have more diversity than even such a large nation like Russia. It is immediately evident that Russia had not industrialized yet because many of the residents seem to have a fenced in vegetable plot of some sort. The roads are unpaved which was typical for the time, but there is a well maintained bridge in the foreground. Once again it is doubtful that Prokudin-Gorsky could have know how great a resource this picture would make for a typical Russian town in this time period, but that did not stop him snapping a picture of it.