Between 1911 and 1914, Owen Richardson formulated a theory of photoelectricity based on thermodynamics and statistical reasoning. Although this theory succeeded in accounting for most of the relevant phenomena and despite the lack of competing causal or descriptive accounts of the phenomena, it failed to attract other physicists. This paper seeks the reasons for the neglect of this theory in contemporary cultures of photoelectric research. Four main causes of neglect are identified: the relatively high number and the nature of the theory's assumptions, the contradiction of one of these assumptions with contemporary views, the failure to suggest new predictions or to account for hitherto unexplained regularities, and the view shared by many scientists that the problem of electromagnetic radiation required a radical solution that a descriptive theory could not provide. The expectation for a radical solution defines the revolutionary character of a research field. In the case of photoelectricity, it originated in a web of evidence to which other fields contributed. The very possibility of Richardson's theory shows that, taken separately, this phenomenon could receive an account which, unlike Einstein's light quantum, did not require deep changes in the conception of nature.