Photo Images from the Harvey Richards Media Archive
Children in California Agriculture Video
This video, Children in California Agriculture 1958 – 1966, brings together images from over a half a century ago of the families with children who harvested our food on the large industrial farms that occupy most of the land in the central valleys of California. Wherever Harvey Richards photographed, he had a special place for children, working in the fields, at home, with their parents and alone. In developing my father’s photography for the Harvey Richards Media Archive, I take special pleasure in bringing together his images of children in the central valleys of California taken long ago.
My father honed his skills as a photographer during the late 1950s during his extensive tours of the California central valleys. His goal was to provide farm worker’s unions with images to support their organizing work and build strong unions. The unions he supported were the United Packinghouse Worker’s Union, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO, the National Farm Worker’s Union and then the United Farm Worker’s Union. He worked with organizers to craft films and photos that would serve their purposes. He made no bones about it. He saw himself as an advocate and supporter of union militants in the world of the 1950s that was hostile to them. The mainstream press then, as now, did not show images of poor people nor of workers that would bring sympathy and support to their cause.
As a pro-worker photographer, Harvey interacted in a special way with the children in California agriculture he photographed. One of the boys he photographed (photo number 10 in the video series) was Federico Correa who provided us with his account of meeting Harvey in a field of carrots in 1958. Federico is today a well known artist living and working in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
I was in high school and later at the University of California during these years, only vaguely aware of what my father was doing. I witnessed his photography as photos emerged from his dark room and adorned the walls of his editing studio where I slept during my weekends with him. The images I woke up to reminded me of the early-morning car caravans that carried my Oakland neighbors out to the valley to find a day’s work picking fruit or harvesting other crops. Later as a UC student, I joined UFW supporters in a trip to the valley designed to give students an understanding of the issues facing farm workers in California, living in the farm worker camps. We thinned plums and other such work alongside farm workers. My brief sojourns into that world opened my eyes to what it means to be a farm worker and to what it was that Harvey Richards was doing with his cameras.
To learn more about farm worker unions and industrial farming in California, check out his films:
And look at the Farm Worker photo galleries on this web site.
MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; firstname.lastname@example.org