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American Utopia (1994)



Genre: Documentary

Place Covered: Llano, California, New Llano, Vernon Parish, Louisiana

Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority, Firefly Productions

Date Issued: 1994-05-20

Duration: 00:56:27

Subjects: Llano Colony (Secular community) | Socialism | History


  • Robertson, Deidre Narrator
  • Blackwood, Ricky Producer
  • Lewis, Beverly Producer
  • Orr, Kim Associate Producer
  • Owens, Adria J. Associate Producer
  • Richard, C.E. Associate Producer
  • Davis, Mike Interviewee
  • Rolfe, Lionel Interviewee
  • Mellon, Knox Interviewee
  • Goldberg, Robert Interviewee
  • Vacik, Tony Interviewee
  • Lennon, Nigey Interviewee
  • Greenstein, Paul Interviewee
  • Mathewson, Harold Interviewee
  • Hine, Robert Interviewee
  • Palmer, Martha Interviewee
  • Pickett, Blair Interviewee
  • Tarver, John Reed Interviewee
  • Ashy, Marguerite Interviewee
  • Nesnow, Ruby Interviewee
  • Swenson, Earl Interviewee
  • Koury, Henry Interviewee
  • Brough, Bill Interviewee
  • Boudreaux, Eula Interviewee
  • Shuldiner, Sarah Interviewee
  • Peecher, Chester Interviewee


This documentary from May 20, 1994, focuses on the Llano Del Rio Cooperative Colony, the longest-lived socialist utopian colony in the United States. It started in California in 1914 and moved to Vernon Parish, Louisiana, in 1917. This documentary covers: the history of utopian colonies in the United States; the life and career of Job Harriman, the colony’s founder; the formation of the Llano Del Rio Cooperative Colony in the Antelope Valley of California in 1914; life in the colony; being forced to move due to a lack of water; the colony’s move to Vernon Parish, Louisiana, in 1917; the role of George T. Pickett in revitalizing the colony following Harriman’s departure; the culture of the colony; the 1935 revolution that ousted Pickett from the leadership of the colony; the bankruptcy and dissolution of the colony in the late 1930s; and the social reforms that were practiced at the colony and later adopted in President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. It includes interviews with: Mike Davis, historian; Lionel Rolfe, Nigey Lennon, and Paul Greenstein, authors of “Bread and Hyacinths”; Dr. Knox Mellon, adjunct professor at the University of California-Riverside; Robert Goldberg, professor at the University of Utah; Tony Vacik, colonist; Harold Mathewson, colonist; Dr. Robert Hine, professor emeritus at the University of California-Riverside; Martha Palmer, Vernon Parish historian; Blair Pickett, the son of George T. Pickett; Dr. John Reed Tarver, historian at the LSU AgCenter; Marguerite Ashy, colonist; Ruby Nesnow, colonist; Earl Swenson, colonist; Henry Koury, Leesville resident; Bill Brough, colonist; Eula Boudreaux, Leesville resident; Sarah Shuldiner, colonist; and Chester Peecher, colonist. Narrator: Deidre Robertson