Ordinary Life in the USSR

Women and Children in the Soviet Union, 1961

Now available in print and ebook formats.Ordinary Life in the USSR 215 pages with over 300 photos.

Harvey and Alice Richards’ Amazing Trip. Watch the Video Book Trailer here.

Soviet Women's Committee hosted Ordinary Life in the USSR tour.
1961, Moscow, USSR. Alice Richards, center, with Soviet Women’s Committee hosts.

Ordinary Life in the USSR 1961 tells the story of Harvey and Alice Richards amazing trip to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1961. Their goal was to document the social safety network that existed in the Soviet Union for women and children in a socialist society. Alice Richards’ script tells the story of our journey as she narrated the films “A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 1: Women of Russia” and “A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 2: Far from Moscow”. Her script is presented here as the text of the book along with Harvey Richards’ photography of the USSR during the Cold War. I added subheadings and captions (in italics) to the photos as needed.

Ordinary Life in the USSR and YouTube: A Million views

As part of creating the Harvey Richards Media Archive web site in 2011, I digitized my father’s 22 films and extracted short clips from each film which I put up on YouTube as previews. I entitled the clips from the Soviet films “Ordinary Life in the USSR, 1961.” As of June, 2022, 1.1 million viewers have visited my YouTube channel, including over 715,000 views of the “Ordinary Life in the USSR 1961” clip alone. Viewers have come from 120 countries. This amazing response to the videos has motivated the publication of this book and its title.

A Social Safety Network for Women and Children

The book adds many previously unpublished still images taken during the filming and many screen grabs from the films. The resulting book reveals the achievements of the USSR in creating a social safety network for women and children. Alice led our efforts in meeting and filming in a variety of settings including work places, maternity wards, schools, universities, homes and child care institutions, and even a fashion show. We spent most of our time in Moscow but also visited Sochi on the Black Sea coast, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Irkutsk in Siberia.

Ordinary Life in the USSR
Alice Richards (center) with nurses from Moscow Maternity Hospital 25

Ordinary Life in the USSR concludes with Alice Richards’ essay “Soviet Women: Liberated or Oppressed?” written in 1978 providing insights into the controversies surrounding the status of women and children in the modern world and documentation about the subject.

The publication of Ordinary Life in the USSR will hopefully contribute to the global struggles to create social networks of support for women and children everywhere. Creating and maintaining such social safety networks in all societies is a necessary step along the road to equality and justice.

Paul in sochi
1961, Sochi, USSR. Paul Richards holding the tripod during the filming of “A Visit to the Soviet Union.”

Fresh Out of High School

I accompanied them on this five week journey as a 17 year old, fresh out of high school. Now, decades later, it is an honor to offer a record of an experience that has profoundly impacted my view of the world and made me a life long advocate for socialism.

Ordinary Life in the USSR, 1961: Volume One in the Critical Focus Series

Ordinary Life in the USSR, 1961 is volume one in the Critical Focus Series forthcoming from Estuary Press. The Series arises out of the 1986 publication of Critical Focus: The Black and White Photographs of Harvey Wilson Richards. At that time, I had just received the boxes of photos and films that my father had accumulated over decades of photographic and film work dating from the 1950’s to 1978. The images included in the pre-computer age 1986 edition of Critical Focus came from prints that he had developed in his darkroom to use supporting the struggles he filmed. Now, these analog images are part of the larger digital collection of thousands of images and twenty two films available on the Harvey Richards Media Archive web site. The Critical Focus Series’ purpose is to bring the larger digital collection in the Archive to the public.
The Series will feature five main subjects: Peace, Civil Rights, California Farm Workers, Environment, and the Soviet Union. Each volume will be available in paperback and eBook formats. The eBook format volumes include links to wider sources of information on each subject now available digitally.

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