A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 1: Women of Russia focuses upon Moscow and the work, housing, education, child care and medical facilities available to women in a socialist society. Harvey and Alice Richards wrote, filmed and produced this documentary at the height of the cold war when visiting the Soviet Union was rare for Americans. The purpose of the film was to offer positive images and information about the USSR by documenting the remarkable advances achieved in the conditions of women and children in a socialist society. Cold war propaganda and hostility made it difficult to present pro socialist ideas.
Women of Russia: The Soviet Women’s Committee
The film production was arranged by the Soviet Women’s Committee as part of ongoing relationships that Harvey and Alice Richards had created by hosting several visits to the San Francisco Bay Area by Soviet Women in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. The Soviet Women’s Committee provided interpreters, transportation and arrangements to create the itinerary of visits to hospitals, work places, homes, schools, and day care centers that are featured in the film.
This film, and Part 2: Far From Moscow, remained obscure for decades as the Cold War climaxed with the collapse of the USSR. Yet the power of the ideas of socialist cooperation to elevate the conditions of women and children remained strong even through the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of the socialist block into capitalist powers such as modern day China and Vietnam.
When this web site was created in 2011, film clips from all 22 of Harvey Richards documentaries were placed on YouTube to make them available for those interested in this collection. In the years since these clips were added to YouTube, there have been over 800,000 views of these clips around the world. Surprisingly, over 500,000 of these total views were of the Women of Russia clip alone. A wide ranging debate ensued on the channel comment section that continues to this day, showing the intense interest that still exists for creating independent social networks for women and children in the modern world.