Richard Street

Western Americana



Richard Steven Street trained as an academic historian (Ph. D. Wisconsin, 1995) but made his living for 30 years as a commercial photographer. He is founder, manager, and owner of Streetshots, an agricultural photography business, defined broadly, big apricots to undocumented workers, with off-season sojourns to Haiti (where he is completing a 20-years study of that country's transition from dictatorship to democracy to anarchy) and Bosnia. He used the travel opportunities of his work and down time each winter to work his way through 500 manuscript collections in 22 states in order to complete a multi-volume history of California farmworkers, 1769-to the present, including two volumes on the photographers and photography, two on the contemporary situation, and two large narratives, the first describing the emergence of the farmworker class, the second focused on the struggle to organize and develop countervailing power. Beasts of the Field: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1769-1913 (Stanford University Press, 2004), won the Mark Lynton History Prize from Harvard University/Nieman Foundation-Columbia university Graduate School of Journalism; the Caroline Bancroft Prize from the Denver Public Library; the Golden Spur Award from the Western Writers of America; the Silver Medal in Californiana from the Commonwealth Club of California; the Bay Area Book Reviewers Best Nonfiction on the American West; and was a finalist in the Los Angeles Times best history books of 2004 competition. His memoir, Knife Fight City and Other Matters: An Independent Historian Adrift in the California Agro-Industry at Millennium's End (University of Oklahoma Press, forthcoming), describes his life submerged in the contemporary side of the historical field that is his special expertise. His research at the Beinecke will center on the Jacques Levy Collection and will be used to complete We Are Not Slaves: A Narrative History of California Farmworkers, 1913 to the Present. Street began his study of California farmworkers just as Levy was leaving the fields to write his biography of Cesar Chavez.


Visiting Fellow
The Delano Grape Strike and Aftermath, circa 1968-1974
Visiting Fellow


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