The Library of Congress is a treasure trove of archival gems â€” from antique maps of the universe to the vintage design gems of the Works Progress Administration to fascinating films from the 1940s romanticizing bookmaking. Today, we turn to The Empire That Was Russia, a curious online exhibition of life in Russia in the beginning of the 20th century. Culled here are some remarkable archival images of ethnic diversity in Russia during that period, which at the time included not only all the countries that would eventually become the Soviet Union, but also present-day Finland and Poland. With its 150 million people, of whom only about half were ethnic Russians, the country was home to some fascinating subcultures, captured here in restored and colored negatives by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii , photographer to the Tsar, with captions by the exhibition team.
Learn more about the fascinating process of making color images from Prokudin-Gorskiiâ€™s negatives, a technique known as â€œDigichromatography,â€ made all the more challenging by the fact that no known replica or illustration of the camera that Prokudin-Gorskii used exists today.