Harvey Richards

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Harvey Richards
Harvey Richards photographer.png
Harvey Richards in 1962.
Harvey Wilson Richards

(1912-08-22)August 22, 1912
DiedApril 20, 2001(2001-04-20) (aged 88)
Known forPhotographer, Filmmaker
WebsiteHarvey Richards Media Archive

Harvey Richards (August 22, 1912 – April 20, 2001) was an American photographer and filmmaker. During his career, he produced a total of 22 documentaries of various social and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s.[1] Richards died in April 2001 and his works are part of a collection known as the Harvey Richards Media Archive. Since 1978, his films and photographs have been licensed for use in more than 70 documentaries, books, magazine, exhibits, and television productions.[2]

Early life[edit]

Richards was born in Sumpter, Oregon in 1912. He grew up in Eugene, Oregon and left school in eighth grade to work.[3] Richards began his career as a merchant seaman at the age of 18, sailing the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean seas, taking his first ship across the Pacific to China in 1930.[3] He became a member of the National Maritime Union and later settled in Boston where he worked as a union organizer for the WPA and Worker's Alliance in Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.[3]

Richards moved to San Francisco, California in 1940. Once in San Francisco, Richards worked as a machinist in the shipyards for Bethlehem Steel Corporation, installing gun turrets, diesel engines, and propellers on Liberty ships during World War II.[3] He did not begin his career in film and photography until his mid-forties.[4]


March to Sacramento Begins. March 1966, Delano, California. Photo by Harvey Richards.

Richards began photography in the 1950s, beginning with a 35-millimeter still camera.[4] During the 1950s, he built his own studio and darkroom, developing film and print pictures. He began using motion picture cameras and supplemented his work with sound and film editing equipment.[4] Between 1958 and 1978, Richards produced 22 documentaries, many of which deal with politics and civil rights during that era.[4]

A Non-Violent Confrontation. June 1965, Oakland Army Base. Committee for Non-Violent Action offers gifts to soldiers being deployed to Vietnam. Photo by Harvey Richards.

Much of Richards's early work dealt with California farm workers and the California Farm Worker Movement.[5] His documentaries captured worker conditions and were later distributed to union organizers.[6] The films were not sponsored by the unions so Richards did all the filming and editing independently.[4] The documentaries focused on working conditions and the anticipated end to the bracero labor program that began in the 1940s.[7] He also documented the rush to implement machinery into farms in anticipation of higher labor costs.[8]

From the late 1950s to mid-1960s, Richards focused his documentaries on the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He filmed in various locations including San Francisco and the southern United States in places such as Mississippi. He covered protests in the San Francisco Bay Area in support of civil rights. Richards also documented the stories of sharecroppers who fought for voting rights in the State of Mississippi.[9]

Richards filmed a series of documentaries in the 1960s and 1970s dealing with environmental issues, mainly Deforestation in the United States and pollution in the San Francisco Bay. He also covered various protests of the Vietnam War, and documented the founding of the Women for Peace Organization in 1961. His documentary Warning Warning was also used to help build support for the nonprofit organization Save the Bay.[10]

Richards died in 2001, survived by his wife Alice Schott Richards who died in 2011.[11]


Year Title Notes
1959 Factory Farms Documentary film of California farm labor[6]
1960 The Harvesters Documentary about mechanizing the California agriculture labor force
1960 Perch of the Devil: The Copper Strike of 1959 Butte, Montana, The Richest Hill on Earth
1962 Uno Veintecino: the Lettuce Strike of 1962 Documentary of the 1962 AFL-CIO strike over pay for lettuce pickers in California
1962 Everyman Everyman Protested Nuclear Testing
1962 Women for Peace Founding the Women for Peace Organization
1962 A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 1: Women of Russia Women and Children in the Soviet Union: A Socialist Alternative
1962 A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 2: Far from Moscow Ordinary People in the Soviet Union: Tashkent and Irkutsk
1963 Freedom March San Francisco 1963 Freedom March in Support of Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama
1963 Freedom Bound Share Croppers and Voter Registration Activists Tell Their Stories.
1963 We'll Never Turn Back Share Croppers and Voter Registration Activists Tell Their Stories.
1963 The Stump Makers The Stump Makers: "Cutting the Lungs Out of the Planet" Judy Bari
1964 Dream Deferred Documentary film for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for registration vote drive, filmed just prior to the Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964
1964 Wasted Woods Wasted Woods: "Cut and Get Out. After Us, the Deluge and the Desert."
1965 Decision in the Streets 1960’s Bay Area Peace and Civil Rights Protests in the Streets, including the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley
1965 Hot Damn! 1965 Anti-War Protests in the San Francisco Bay Area
1966 This Land Is Rich Documentary film on the Delano grape strike and the farm worker march to Sacramento in 1965 and 1966.
1968 No Greater Cause and Faces of Vietnam War Protest Documentary film on protests against the war in Vietnam
1970 Warning Warning Pollution and Land Filling Threaten San Francisco Bay
1971 Timber Tigers Deforestation: "After us, the deluge and the desert."
1975 Vanishing Redwoods Clear Cutting Threatens the Survival of the Species
1978 Tale of Ruin, Capitalism and World Resources Capitalism Destroys the Earth

Legacy and the Harvey Richards Media Archive[edit]

In 1987, Richards turned his films and photos over to his son Paul Richards who formed Estuary Press to license and publish the films and images.[4] Harvey Richards still images are archived on the Harvey Richards Media website. His most famous photo of Dolores Huerta during the 1965 grape strike was displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in its "One Life: Dolores Huerta" exhibit.[12] Paul also authored Critical Focus, The Black and White Photographs of Harvey Wilson Richards, a book with images of his father's work from the 1960s and 1970s.[13] The book was published in 1987, the same year the photos and films became available for licensing through the Harvey Richards Media Archive.[14]

Since 1978, his film and photos have been licensed for use in more than 70 documentaries, books, magazine, exhibits, and television productions.[4] Two featured films that used his footage include Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Eyes on the Prize, a 14-hour PBS Documentary.[3]


  1. ^ "Deaths - Harvey Richards". Palentine Weekly. 9 May 2001. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  2. ^ Richards, Paul (2014). Critical Focus: The Black and White Photographs of Harvey Wilson Richards. Estuary Press. ISBN 9780961872564.
  3. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Matthew (29 April 2001). "Harvey Richards". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Harvey Richards, filmmaker and photographer". Harvey Richards Media Archive. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  5. ^ "California and the West - Documentaries about California". University of California Berkeley. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b Prelinger, Rick (2006). The field guide to sponsored films. National Film Preservation Foundation. ISBN 9780974709932.
  7. ^ Buhle, Paul (1997). From the Knights of Labor to the New World Order: Essays on Labor and Culture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780815322252. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  8. ^ Street, Richard Steven (2004). Photographing Farmworkers in California. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804740920.
  9. ^ Combs, Barbara Harris (2013). From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom. Routledge. ISBN 9781136173769.
  10. ^ "Warning Warning". Save The Bay. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Alice Richards". The Free Library. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Telling the Latino Story through Portraiture". Face 2 Face. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  13. ^ "PW Select December 2014: New Titles From Self-Publishers". Publishers Weekly. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  14. ^ Street, Richard (2008). Everyone Had Cameras: Photography and Farmworkers in California, 1850-2000. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816649679.

External links[edit]