Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Kate Hennessy


November 23, 2017

The SVA Remembers Richard B. Freeman (1959-2017)

November 23, 2017 | By | 2 Comments

Richard B. Freeman (1959-2017)

Our friend and colleague, Richard Freeman passed away unexpectedly in October, due to complications from cancer. Richard was involved with the Society for Visual Anthropology for at least two decades and was elected to serve on the Board beginning at the end of the 2017 meeting. Richard was an avid photographer and excellent visual researcher, he published in VAR and also notably in the volume Viewpoints (2009), edited by Mary Strong and Laena Wilder. Trained as both a photographer and anthropologist, Richard returned to school and became a librarian, finding a means for combining his passion for anthropology, research, media practice and technology. Since 2012 Richard was employed at the University of Florida as an Assistant University Librarian and the Anthropology Subject Specialist in the Smathers Libraries. There he was able to lend his skills and talents to projects in Oaxaca (with Bill Wood) as well as in Haiti and Miami (with Ben Heblethwaite). Richard was very interested in the role of archiving big data for social science and humanities research, and had recently uploaded his data on Vodou in Haiti and Miami to the Digital Library of the Caribbean, a multi-institution self-upload collection which he eagerly promoted as an example of the future of digital research ( Richard chaired panels and round tables and offered workshops on this topic at national meetings as well as at U. Florida. Most recently he convened a panel on “Data Management for Anthropology in the Digital Age” at the 2016 AAA meetings and was lead editor of a book on the same topic, expected to be published in 2018 (Palgrave).

Over the years Richard regularly attended the annual SVA Visual Research Conference where he is remembered for his insightful comments and supportive nature. This past year he served on the John Collier, Jr Award committee, bringing his critical eye and unique perspective to bear upon the many nominations for outstanding still photography. Richard loved to travel and explore, meet people and listen to music. We could always count on Richard for good conversation on many different topics ranging from his beloved Cubs, anthropology and digital scholarship, photography and camera gear, and his curious and eclectic taste in music from around the globe. His website best reflects Richard’s enthusiastic approach to life, his interests, sense of humor, and his friends (

A remembrance will be held for Richard during the 2017 Visual Research Conference on Wednesday, November 29 at 1:15PM in the Rose Room, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC.

prepared by J. Crowder

Richard chats with Brent Luvaas about his street photography project. Denver, 2016.

Richard engaging with a presenter at the Visual Research Conference in Minneapolis, 2016.

Richard attending the Visual Research Conference in Denver. November, 2015.

Richard sharing his lunch at the Visual Research Conference. Washington, DC. 2014.


  1. Grant Hayes

    Rest in peace Richard. I really enjoyed getting to know him the past two years at the SVA events. He was one of the first people I met at the welcoming social. We shared in many good laughs and moments. Thank You Richard.


    Hi, I am Richie’s big sister, and I would like to whole-heartedly thank the SVA for this wonderful remembrance of my brother, Richard. He loved being part of the SVA for professional reasons and for the camaraderie he found being with all of you.
    On behalf of my family, we say thank you, we are so happy to know his legacy will live on in the thoughts & hearts of the many people that were part of the rich and colorful tapestry of Richard’s amazing life.

Submit a Comment

Follow us to get the latest updates.

twitter facebook rss