The Richmond-Chase Company founded and incorporated by Edmond Nutting Richmond in 1919 became one of the primary fruit canning giants in Santa Clara County. The company maintained four major packing and canning plants in San Jose, and had other agricultural operations in central California, as well as owning several orchards. In San Jose each plant hired between 1500-2000 workers at the height of processing seasoning.
In the 1920s and 1930s Santa Clara County became the fruit processing capital of the world. The cannery industry became the largest employer in San Jose at this time, and plants like Richmond-Chase had the highest employment rate of women, most of whom were immigrants from Southern Europe and later from Mexico. Cannery work involved long hours, low pay, and grim working conditions, yet many of the female workers later recalled having great pride in their work.
The Richmond Chase Photographic Album provides a snap-shot view of the fruit-processing in San Jose. Several of the images depict women in various stages of the operations, and there are several group photographs that highlight the dominance of the female workforce. All of the images in the album have been digitized for our online collection. For additional information about using images in this collection, contact the SJSU Special Collections Department.