Sergei Prokudin-Gorskiiwas a Russian chemist who’s experimental color photography captures the life of Russia before the Revolution with striking realism. His process consisted of shooting black-and-white exposures with red, green and blue filters, combining them to create a color image. (This process was often done on board a makeshift dark room on his long train journeys.)
From 1909 thru 1915, Prokudin-Gorskii traveled across the Empire and back again collecting images that, according to this Denver post article, were supposed to be a photographic survey. The daily life of the everyday worker (as well as the not so everyday worker) is documented without propaganda or pretense—these were the faces that would soon see their lives (along with, by extension, the rest of the world) changed forever by Revolution.
With the crudest of technology, Gorskii produced images that even 100 years on, still look as fresh and new and vibrantly real as though they were taken only moments ago.
The past has rarely been so tangibly real.