National Forest Foundation

Picture the Past: Forest History Society Repeat Photography Project

The National Forest System


The Forest History Society (FHS) is a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to collecting, preserving, and disseminating forest and conservation history for all to use. As part of its mission, FHS is continually seeking innovative ways of enhancing its programs in research, publication, and education, as well as new methods for promoting the study of environmental history.

FHS has recently launched a web resource showcasing sets of repeat photographs for scientific study and education in the domain of forest and land management in support of the Society’s mission.

Repeat photography is the practice of taking photographs of a specific location at two or more different times. It is a powerful visual resource for scientific study and education in forest and landscape management. 

From working forests to wilderness areas, such photographic pairs or sequences can help us understand ecosystem processes, and effects of human and non-human disturbances. They can inform our concepts of sustainability, help us understand the implications of public policy, and assess the results of management decisions. 

Weyerhaeuser Tree Farm at Wolf Point in the St. Helens area of Washington in 1940

Weyerhaeuser Tree Farm at Wolf Point in the St. Helens area of Washington in 1950

Weyerhaeuser Tree Farm at Wolf Point in the St. Helens area of Washington in 1960

While many repeat photos of forested land exist, they are scattered in many locations, occur in widely different formats, and are relatively difficult to find. Thus the FHS has aimed at collecting sets of repeat photographs relating to land management and environmental research. View the project at

This centralized database will allow users to search for photos by subject keyword, location, date, format, and photographer, among many other characteristics. Additionally, repeat photography sets will be presented with contextual information and individual images will be displayed at detailed resolution for comparison and analysis.

The project is a collaboration between FHS and several other institutional and individual collaborators. By providing an authoritative site on the subject we hope:

  • to identify previously unknown repeat photographic pairs and sequences, 
  • promote the creation of new repeat sets, and 
  • foster interest in the future uses of repeat photography. 

The project leads welcome insights, recommendations, and collaboration in making this valuable historical information more widely available. If you have photos, research ideas, or any other input that might help, please contact Project Photo Archivist Sara Pezzoni at

The Repeat Photography Project can be accessed at

Related Posts

Powder Hounds and Access to Play

With 60 percent of all alpine skiing happening on National Forests, powder hounds are recreating on many National Forest lands. The U.S. Forest Service and the ski industry have enjoyed a unique history since the first ski resorts – Sun Valley, Alta, and others –opened. However, the origins of recreational access for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, or any other use is more complex than you might expect.

Read more

Ten "Best Of" National Forests

Although each National Forest features its own unique attractions, there are a select few that stand out as superlatives in a variety of categories. Whatever your interest, there is a forest for you full of unforgettable experiences. This list represents the best of the best from states throughout the country.

Read more

K.D. Swan Photos Capture Early National Forests

K.D. Swann, introduced Americans to public lands in the West. The U.S. Forest Service hired Swan in 1911 as a forest assistant in Missoula, Montana. With his interest in forest management and ability for storytelling through photography, Swan captured 300,000 images he captured during his 36 years with the Forest Service.

Read more

Share this post on social media


Give back to our National Forests

Support our National Forests and Grasslands for generations to come with a gift today.

Donate Now