Work and Social Justice: The David Bacon Photography Archive at Stanford


Exhibition shown October 19, 2020 – May 9, 2021, in Green Library 

Stanford Libraries presents Work and Social Justice: The David Bacon Photography Archive at Stanford, on view October 19, 2020, through May 9, 2021, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda, Green Library Bing Wing. The exhibition celebrates the David Bacon Photography Archive, recently acquired in January of 2019 by Stanford Libraries’ Special Collections.

A union organizer for two decades, David Bacon has been a social activist his entire adult life. From 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, South East Asia, Europe, and Iraq with an emphasis on California and the United States-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.

For close to forty years the Stanford Libraries have actively collected archival materials that chronicle the history of social change movements in the United States and abroad. They are among the most heavily used materials in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives. They provide copious opportunities for teaching and research and are regularly consulted by Stanford students, faculty, and scholars. Now, they also provide a deep and rich context for the images in the David Bacon Photography Archive. This photography archive is our history.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, a virtual event: In-Conversation with David Bacon & Kevin De León: Movements for Change in California, hosted by the department of Special Collections and University Archives will take place online via Zoom on October 29th, 2020 from 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm. See below for more information. This event is free and open to the public, registration is required.

We are grateful to Michael A. Keller, University Librarian, and Matt Marostica, Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Collection Development who approved the proposals and funding for the acquisition.

The exhibition and catalog Work & Social Justice are the joint efforts of Benjamin Lee Stone, Roberto Trujillo, Deardra Fuzzell, David Bacon, and Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez. Many people worked tirelessly to make the initial photo galleries available through Stanford SearchWorks and Spotlight including Glynn Edwards, Laura Wilsey, Lucayo Casillas, Laura Nguyen, Christy Smith, Annie Schweikert, Sally DeBauche, Cathy Aster, and Gary Geisler. Meagan Trott, Wayne Vanderkuil, Elizabeth Fischbach, Sonia Lee, and Gabrielle Karampeles were essential to various parts of the exhibition, catalog, and virtual opening event. Elizabeth Rhein skillfully copyedited the text. Rob Reiter, of the Lightroom in Berkeley expertly created the exhibition prints on display in the Peterson and Munger Galleries. Deardra Fuzzell managed the production, design, and installation of the exhibition and the catalog. Pasha Tope artfully co-designed the exhibition and catalog. David Bacon was consulted throughout the process of image selection, writing, printing, design, and installation work; for this, we thank him profusely.

Showcasing six major themes of David Bacon’s work—including farmworkers; immigrant workers; Mexico; migrants and the border; poverty and protest; and from Davao to Baghdad— this exhibition explores movements for change and social justice in the United States and beyond.

We invite you to visit the online exhibit.

Print catalogs are available for purchase here. A digital version of the catalog may be downloaded for free from the online exhibit site.

Work and Social Justice will be on display in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda exhibit cases from October 19, 2020 – May 9, 2021.

NOTE: Exhibit cases in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda are illuminated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to call 650-723-0931 or visit the Library Hours page to confirm hours.

The exhibition is free and currently restricted to the following current Stanford ID cardholders: students, post-docs, professors (including emeriti), academic staff, fellows, and Stanford visiting scholars. Learn about the Libraries' entry requirements and available services.