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Guide to the Helen Nestor Free Speech Movement Photographs
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Helen Nestor Free Speech Movement Photographs
    Photographer: Nestor, Helen
    Repository: Oakland Museum of California
    Oakland, California 94607
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The records are open for research with no restrictions under the conditions of the museum's access policy. Appointments may be made by calling (510) 238-2200

    Publication Rights

    Researchers are responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use material not produced by museum personnel.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Helen Nestor Free Speech Movement Photographs, Oakland Museum of California.

    Scope and Content

    The Helen Nestor photographic collection at the Oakland Museum of California in Oakland, California contains more than 2,000 prints and 20,000 negatives, is the life's work of an important documentary photographer who specialized in recording the political and social changes of the 1960s and beyond in California. The 39 photographs presented here are a selection from her negatives taken during the Free Speech Movement in the Fall of 1964.
    Nestor's prolific career is all the more remarkable in that she is seriously disabled. Like Dorothea Lange (with whom she was acquainted), Nestor was afflicted with polio; unlike her more famous colleague, she could not walk without the assistance of crutches and, eventually, a wheelchair. Despite this she produced compelling work in often threatening situations. Born in 1924, Nestor earned a B.S. degree in public health at U.C. Berkeley before being stricken with polio in 1951. She studied photography in the early 1960s with Ansel Adams, Morley Baer, Minor White, and Dorothea Lange - her spiritual mentor.
    Nestor's work appeared in Ramparts magazine as well as in several monographs including Equal Start (1968), On the Go (1968), The Trouble in Berkeley (1965) and Field Trips (1966). In the 1970s she became increasingly interested in changing family constellations, creating a series entitled Non-Traditional American Families, which exhibited in several galleries including the Focus Gallery in San Francisco. In 1988 she rephotographed these families for a book titled Family Portraits in Changing Times (1992).
    Nestor has also photographed the disabled, focusing on disabled working women and artists. She has mounted ten solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group showings.