Introduction to the David Bacon Photography Archive
The David Bacon archive is a wonderfully rich teaching and research collection. David’s approach to become part of the communities he documents not only provides a unique first-hand account of the human stories comprising these larger movements, but allows for those stories to continue to be shared and studied.
Acquired in the winter of 2019, the David Bacon Photography Archive is one of the Stanford Libraries’ largest collections of documentary photography. With a focus on labor and social justice it is a primary resource of great value to Stanford’s teaching and research programs. The archive is extensive, encompassing some 200,000 images and including original film negatives, color transparencies, selected prints, and digital files.
A union organizer for two decades, David Bacon has been a social activist his entire adult life. In the mid-1980s, he began working as an independent photographer and journalist documenting the lives and social movements of migrants, farm workers, and communities impacted by globalization. His work spans multiple geographic regions including the United States, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Iraq with an emphasis on California and the US/Mexico Border.
Bacon’s photographs reveal powerful, often personal images of people on the margins of society. Farm workers bent double in the fields; hotel workers with hands cracked from harsh chemicals reaching into the depths of massive laundry machines; protestors erupting in the streets; migrant workers living under the trees in the hillsides outside of San Diego. Overarchingly, he has created a record of contemporary social reality and a photographic history of people, the global economy, and the struggle for human rights.
This Spotlight exhibition features both a digital companion to the forthcoming physical exhibition, Work & Social Justice: the David Bacon Photography Archive at Stanford— scheduled to debut in the Peterson & Munger Galleries in Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford in the Fall of 2020—as well as growing number of galleries, selected and curated by David Bacon.
This photography archive is our history.
Roberto G. Trujillo, Associate University Librarian, Director of Special Collections, and Charles & Frances Field Curator of Special Collections
Ben Stone, Associate Director of Special Collections and Curator for American & British History