Women and Children in Irkutsk, Siberia , 1961

A slice of life on a clear summer’s day

We visited Siberia where we photographed women and children in Irkutsk, Siberia in the city and on farms and, at nearby Lake Baikal, a ferry boat ride. These photos were taken during the filming A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 1: Women of Russia and Part 2: Far From Moscow. Now, 52 years later, and 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, show a slice of life on a clear summer’s day in socialist Siberia.  

Women and Children in Irkutsk, Siberia

Women and Children in Irkutsk, Siberia on a Ferry Ride, 1961

Women and Children in Irkutsk, Siberia on a Ferry Ride, 1961

The photos of women and children in Irkutsk, Siberia in this gallery were taken during Harvey and Alice Richards’ trip to the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1961 to make a film called  A Visit to the Soviet Union, Part 1: Women of Russia and Part 2: Far From Moscow. I accompanied them, at age 17, to help with the batteries and heavy equipment. We visited Irkutsk in Siberia where we photographed farms and, at nearby Lake Baikal, a ferry boat ride. These photos, now, 52 years later, and 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, show a slice of life on a clear summer’s day in a socialist Siberia.  

Visiting a place for a brief moment is like taking a fast frame photo in the stream of history sweeping invisibly past you. Many changes have occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.  These photos, taken 28 years before then, are more than a travel log since they preserve the look, the faces, the clothing, and smiles of people deep in the heart of the socialist world.  Harvey and Alice’s goal in photographing the Soviet Union was to humanize it, to bring understanding beyond the political rhetoric of the Cold War that seemed to be leading us to another world war at that time.  Presenting these images today helps fulfill their goal.


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