Biography


Portrait of David Bacon by Katy Raddatz, 2002.

David Bacon is a California-based photographer, writer, social activist, and union organizer. He has dedicated most of his career to documenting labor history. 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 captures critically important aspects of the civil rights movements and consists of original film negatives, color transparencies, selected prints, and audio recordings.

Bacon was a factory worker and union organizer for two decades with the United Farm Workers, the International Ladies Garment Workers, and other unions. He has written several books and numerous articles about migration, including: The Children of NAFTA (University of California Press, 2004); Communities Without Borders (ILR/Cornell University Press, 2006); Illegal People – How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008); and The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013). His most recent book of photographs and oral histories, In the Fields of the North/En Los Campos del Norte, was published by the University of California Press and the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Tijuana), 2017.

Bacon’s photography has been exhibited widely in the United States, Mexico, and in Europe, including at the Oakland Museum of California; the University of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Merced; the National Civil Rights Museum; DeSaisset Museum, Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography; Queens College; the Church Center of the United Nations; the Museum of Mexico City; the National Autonomous University of Mexico; the Autonomous University of Mexico City; IG Metall Galerie in Frankfurt; Galerie Unterhaus in Passau; and the Kulture AXE in Vienna.

Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is one of the co-founders of the United Farm Workers, noted the significance of Bacon’s archive finding a home at Stanford.

“The preservation of David’s work is critical to our history,” said Huerta who is also president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “I applaud Stanford’s continued commitment to archive the history of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the United States. David Bacon’s archive acquired by Stanford will assure that our history is not lost.”


Please note that the David Bacon archive is not yet fully processed. Currently, only a portion of the digital archive is available. Researchers interested in accessing the collection should contact the Department of Special Collections.