The UCSF Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce the completion of the Subaward: “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic: Digitizing and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records Network of the National Library of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region Subaward: “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic: Digitizing and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records.” This project chronicles the stories of marginalized communities and communities of color during the AIDS epidemic.
In collaboration with UC Merced Library’s Digital Assets Unit, we digitized over 45,000 pages from 14 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area. The digitized material is now accessible to the public via the California Digital Library platform, Calisphere. This new corpus includes correspondence, brochures, reports, notebooks, negatives, newspaper clips, and photographic prints. Several new digital collections have been added to our digital holdings related to AIDS history including:
Another accomplishment of the project was the development of an AIDS history primary source set in collaboration with Aimee Medeiros, Associate Professor of History of Health Sciences at UCSF. The primary source set titled “BIPOC Activism” highlights BIPOC activism and AIDS outreach campaigns to communities of color during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. This new educational resource and tool can be used by students, teachers, and researchers and is accessible on the archives’ website.
The Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA) records are among the AIDS community-based organizations records (MSS 98-49) housed with the UCSF Archives and Special Collections. These records were assembled as part of the UCSF AIDS History Project, acquired with the goal of documenting the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and the San Francisco community response to it.
The Black Coalition on AIDS was established in 1986 to address the needs of the African American community in the early years of the AIDS epidemic and “to ensure Black people would receive appropriate services and be adequately represented in policy decisions.” It is still active today and was renamed the Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness in 2015 to reflect its expanded health education and health support services.
The Black Coalition on AIDS (BCA) records housed with us include meeting minutes, handwritten notes, programs from their first two annual awards dinners, newsletters, position papers, and proposals.
The honorees featured in the annual awards dinner programs for the BCA Second Annual Awards Dinner in 1991, captured my interest. The event highlighted the achievements of African American activists from the Bay Area and since February is Black History Month, it seemed timely and fitting to share a bit of information about some of the celebrated individuals.
Ken Jones received the Calu Lester Community Activist Award for his work as the Executive Director of STOP AIDS Project, Secretary of the AIDS Life Lobby, Vice Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Caucus to the State Democratic Party, and the founder of BIKE-A-THON for AIDS among many accomplishments. Jones was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He went on to work on police reform issues in response to the 1991 Rodney King beating and in 2011, he served on the citizen review board of the BART Police Department following the BART police killing of Oscar Grant. Jones passed away last year.
Yvonne Littleton received the Individual Community Service Award for her community health outreach work for the Haight Ashbury HIV Prevention Outreach Project. In addition to her public health work and background, Littleton trained as an artist. She was one of the 7 muralists who painted the Maestrapeace Mural on the Women’s Building in the Mission District in 1994. She also worked as a commercial artist and a stage and lighting designer.
The video artist, poet, activist, and educator, Marlon Riggs received the Sylvester Arts Action Award. I was first introduced to Riggs’s work while I was working at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Archives. In 1992, Riggs’s Affirmations won the 2nd Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art Video Award. His works can be found in the collections of the Museum of Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art and in recent years, several arts organizations have mounted exhibitions honoring him and his work:
Last year, the Criterion Collection, which had in recent years come under some scrutiny for its dearth of African-American directors, released the box set of his works, The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs.
Riggs died in 1994 at the age of 37 from AIDS.
Archival records function as time capsules and allow you a glimpse into a specific moment in time and place. And how one document, an event program, can be an introduction to people and places, inviting you to move them beyond just the records. I love this about my job.
UCSF’s project supports a priority area for NLM and NIH by digitizing approximately 45,000 pages from 15 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area with the objective of making them widely accessible to the public. This project will chronicle the experience and struggles of communities of color and other marginalized communities during the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
This project will make publicly accessible experiences of communities that are “absent or excluded from the history of HIV/AIDS in the United States” [Jennifer Brier, The Oral History Review, Volume 45, Issue 1]. Its goal is to include the voices of underrepresented and marginalized groups in the historical record and increase public impact of these archival collections. These collections cover diverse issues communities are faced with: poverty, racial and socio-economic segregation, health care policy inequalities, public health and sexual education and prevention, disparities in the HIV response, the impact of HIV on migrant communities, and the intersection of the criminal justice system and HIV.
The materials that will be digitized range from hand handwritten correspondence and notebooks to typed and printed reports and agency records. Photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, and posters will also be digitized. They will be added to a growing digital collection documenting the AIDS crisis established by UCSF on the California Digital Library platform, Calisphere and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) becoming publicly accessible around the world. The materials will be digitized by the UC Merced Library’s Digital Assets Unit that has been partnering with UCSF on successful collaborative digitization projects for more than 10 years. All materials selected to be digitized will be carefully examined for privacy concerns and the archivists will consult with an existing Advisory Board.
UCSF plans to partner with NLM’s History of Medicine Division and DPLA to create a collaborative AIDS history primary source set on the Digital Public Library of America in order to disseminate the project results and enable their educational use. UCSF will also promote the availability of this resource to organizations in the San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, CA areas. This project is led by Polina Ilieva and Edith Escobedo serves as a project archivist.
By Polina Ilieva, Head of Archives and Special Collections
When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) was at the forefront of medical institutions trying to understand the disease and effectively treat early AIDS patients.
From medical professionals defining the disease and developing a model of care, to activists calling for treatments and public education, this exhibition amplifies the resilience of a community not only responding to its local needs, but also breaking ground on a larger scale with efforts that continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today.
The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt panels displayed at San Francisco City Hall during San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade, UCSF Library, Archives and Special Collections.
UCSF Archives and Special Collections identifies, collects, preserves, and maintains rare and unique materials to support research and teaching of the health sciences and medical humanities and to preserve UCSF institutional memory. The Archives serve as the official repository for the preservation of selected records, print and born-digital materials, and realia generated by or about the UCSF, including all four schools, the Graduate Division, and the UCSF Medical Center.
The Special Collections encompasses a Rare Book Collection that includes incunabula, early printed works, and modern secondary works. The East Asian Collection is especially strong in works related to the history of Western medicine in Japan.The Japanese Woodblock Print Collection consists of 400 prints and 100 scrolls, dating from 16th to the 20th century. The Special Collections also contains papers of health care providers and researchers from San Francisco and California; historical records of UCSF hospitals; administrative records of regional health institutions; photographs and slides; motion picture films and videotapes; and oral histories focusing on development of biotechnology; the practice and science of medicine; healthcare delivery, economics, and administration; tobacco control; anesthesiology; homeopathy and alternative medicine; obstetrics and gynecology; high altitude physiology; occupational medicine; HIV/AIDS and global health.
Calisphere provides free access to California’s remarkable digital collections, which include unique and historically important artifacts from the University of California and other educational and cultural heritage institutions across the state. Calisphere provides digital access to over one million photographs, documents, letters, artwork, diaries, oral histories, films, advertisements, musical recordings, and more. Calisphere Exhibitions are curated sets of items with scholarly interpretation that contribute to historical understanding. Exhibitions tell a story by adding context to selected digital primary sources in Calisphere, thereby bringing the digital content to life. Calisphere Exhibitions are curated by contributing institutions and undergo editorial review. We are currently refining these processes, which are outlined in the Contributor Help Center. Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more about Calisphere Exhibitions.
We are delighted to announce a launch of an online exhibit, Shanti Projects: Histories of Shanti Project and the AIDS Crisis curated by University of Minnesota American Studies graduate student Brendan McHugh. It documents Shanti Project’s AIDS care work during the early decades of the AIDS crisis. Since 1974 Shanti has provided psychosocial peer support counseling to people with life-threatening illnesses and their loved ones in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, Shanti rose to the challenge by creating groundbreaking services for people living with AIDS/HIV. For much of the 1980s and 1990s Shanti was one of the largest AIDS organizations in the U.S. The plurality of the exhibit’s title reflects the vast array of people’s experiences at Shanti during that time period, as well as those who work with Shanti today. Visit the exhibit at https://shantiprojects.dash.umn.edu.
Shanti Projects is organized to reflect the process of becoming involved with Shanti as a volunteer. Alongside the main exhibit are three multimedia pages showcasing the work of photographers Judi Iranyi, Mariella Poli, and Jim Wigler and their portraits of people with AIDS/HIV who played important roles with Shanti. In the future, the final page Active Listening will provide audio clips from oral histories conducted for this project with accompanying transcripts to follow. Additional materials and sources have been provided by The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society, University of California, San Francisco, and generous interviewees personal materials.
There will also be a newsletter published monthly to announce updates on new material and events connected to the exhibit. Please sign up through the link on the exhibit website. For more information contact Brendan McHugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UCSF Archives & Special
Collections was awarded a $14,986 local assistance grant by the California
State Library for the “Documenting the LGBTQ Health Equity Movement in
California’s LGBTQ History
is a grant program that funds projects that support physical and/or digital
preservation and digitization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
(LGBTQ) materials relating to California history and culture. This California
State Library program will award a total of $500,000 in one-time grants for
projects from large archival institutions with a global reach, as well as
smaller, localized collections. The program aims to preserve materials that
demonstrate the significant role of LGBTQ Californians and the LGBTQ movement
in this state, as well as providing a more comprehensive and inclusive view of
The UCSF project will support
preservation through processing and partial digitization of two collections
documenting the LGBTQ health equity movement in California:
• San Francisco AIDS Foundation Magnet Program Records
• UCSF LGBT Resource Center Records
The San Francisco AIDS
Foundation (SFAF) Magnet Program is a health and wellness program located in
the SFAF’s Strut Center in the heart of the Castro District of San Francisco.
They offer community events, sexual health services, substance use counseling,
PrEP, HIV and STI testing, learning events and rotating art displays from queer
artists. In spring 2001, a Community
Advisory Board comprised of community members, social workers, and activists
began meeting regularly to discuss how to proceed with the development of a new
Gay Men’s Health Center. The new center chose
to address gay men’s health in innovative ways instead of simply replicating
existing programs in a new location. Since 2003, Magnet’s overarching vision
has been to promote the physical, mental, and social well-being of gay men.
Magnet activities are guided by the following core values of the agency:
self-determination, access, sexual expression, diversity, and leadership.
Magnet provides individual STI/HIV services and community programs including
book readings, art exhibits, town hall forums, and other social events. In 2007
Magnet merged with the SFAF to increase the services available to men
throughout the Bay Area. Magnet also serves transgender, gender non-conforming,
gender non-binary, and gender-queer people.
This collection includes
founding documents, surveys of clients, assessments of services, marketing
materials, advocacy campaigns, photographs, community art pieces, and posters
documenting the establishment and activities of the Magnet program.
The LGBT Resource Center
serves as the hub for all queer life at UCSF, including the campus and medical
center. It works toward creating and maintaining a safe, inclusive, and
equitable environment for LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, post-docs,
residents, fellows, alumni, and patients. It aims to sustain visibility and a
sense of community throughout the many campus sites. This community takes an
intersectional approach and is committed to building workplace equity,
promoting student and staff leadership, and providing high-quality,
culturally-congruent care to UCSF patients. Founded in 1998, it was the first
LGBT resource center in a health science institution.
This collection includes the center’s
founding documents, traces the earlier LGBT community activities in the 1970s
through the 1980s, and contains materials chronicling the history and evolution
of the center. It also includes records of diverse events organized by the
center: Coming Out Monologues, Trans Day of Remembrance & Resilience, and
Trans Day of Visibility, as well as correspondence and announcements related to
OUTlist, Mentoring Program, and Annual LGBTQIA+ Health Forum. These materials also
document UC-wide advocacy work for providing equal benefits for same-sex
The UCSF Archives & Special
Collections have been working on preserving materials documenting the LGBTQ
health equity movement in California. These two recently acquired collections
will enable researchers to investigate these communities’ efforts to address health-related
issues and advocate for health equity.
The Magnet collections allow researchers to
investigate how the “San Francisco model” of AIDS care continued to evolve in
the twenty-first century by providing free and equitable health care, education,
and community space. Both collections contribute to an understanding of the
medical, social, and political processes that merged to develop effective means
of treating those with AIDS and other illnesses.
Diverse audiences will benefit
from having access to this project’s archival collections, including scholars
in disciplines such as medicine, nursing, jurisprudence, journalism, history
and sociology, college students, and members of the general public pursuing
individual areas of interest.
The collections included in
this project are currently only accessible at the UCSF Archives reading room.
The digitization of these collections will grant access to these valuable
primary sources and other hard-to-find materials to scholars, students, and
others worldwide. This project will significantly expand the historical record
of the LGBTQ health equity movement in California and make a new corpus of
materials related to the movement’s progress discoverable to a broad audience.
Over the past three decades, UCSF Archives & Special Collections has played a vital role in documenting the AIDS epidemic.
We are seeking your help to maintain and grow the AIDS History Project (AHP) archive as a critical, one-of-a-kind public record of the institutions and individuals involved in containing and treating the HIV both locally, and worldwide.
Your generosity advances vital work to collect, preserve, and provide universal access to stories of the AIDS epidemic.
35 years have passed since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and many of the original researchers, health care providers, and community activists who were on the front lines of defense against HIV have now begun to retire from public service. There is an urgent need to collect, preserve, and provide open access to their collections.
Your support will allow us to:
Catalog and digitize recently acquired collections, including, papers of Drs. Jay Levy and Steven G. Deeks, SF AIDS Foundation records
Record a new set of oral histories with clinicians, researchers, pharmaceutical and biotech scientists, health care workers, activists, community members, patients, and their family members
Expand the AIDS History Project statewide scope, solicit and acquire material fro regional community health centers
Organize exhibits and public events to share materials and stories preserved in the archives
Through its newsletter CDL “highlights new collections on Calisphere that feature community voices and stories. These collections are made available in close collaboration with local community members and broaden our worldview through the diverse narratives and myriad perspectives that resonate in the collections.
Spotlight on the AIDS History Project
The UCSF Archives & Special Collections was a pioneering repository that collected materials documenting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, one of the most significant public-health events of the late twentieth century and an ongoing challenge throughout the world.
The AIDS History Project (AHP) began in 1987 as a joint effort of historians, archivists, AIDS activists, health care providers, and others to secure historically significant resources reflecting responses to the crisis in San Francisco. Starting in 1991, the Archives received several grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to fund the survey, acquisition, arrangement, and description of carefully selected records from numerous San Francisco-based agencies and organizations whose work focused on the AIDS crisis.” Continue reading: https://cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2019/10/30/diverse-narratives-and-myriad-perspectives-new-collections-on-calisphere/
This is a guest post by exhibit curator Sabrina Oliveros
When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century.
October 1, 2019, UCSF Archives & Special Collections is opening the exhibit
They Were Really Us: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS.
Featuring materials from the Archives’ extensive AIDS History Project Collections, the show highlights ways individual
professionals affiliated with UCSF acted to address HIV/AIDS following its
outbreak. Their responses included working in and with the larger San Francisco
community – and continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today.
exhibit title comes from a statement by Dr. Paul Volberding, who co-founded the
country’s first dedicated AIDS Clinic in 1983; he now serves as the Director of
patients were exactly our age… all those other ways that we tend to separate
ourselves meant very little when you realize that the patients had gone to the
same schools, they listened to the same music, they went to the same
restaurants. So they were really us… which added to the commitment that I think
all of us had.”
The first proofs of that
commitment are traced through displays on the main lobby (third floor) of the
Here, papers, slides,
photographs, and artifacts help outline early milestones in HIV/AIDS research
and care. These include the foundation of the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Clinic at UCSF, which
sought to understand the mysterious “cancer” that turned out to be AIDS; the
discovery of the HIV virus in 1983 by Dr. Jay Levy; the establishment of the
outpatient and inpatient AIDS clinics at San Francisco General Hospital; and
the development of the holistic San Francisco Model of AIDS Care.
Pioneering and compassionate,
this model treated people with AIDS not simply as patients requiring medical
attention, but as complex individuals also in need of psychological, social,
economic, and political support.
Excerpts from the diary of Bobbi
Campbell – a UCSF nursing student
who championed the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement – help tell some
of these individual stories. So do a selection of newsletters and other
materials that lend voices to persons with AIDS.
loaned section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt caps off the displays.
outbreak of HIV/AIDS devastated the city of San Francisco; it also mobilized the
community. Exhibits on the first floor of the library showcase the work done by
community organizations that, beyond the medical front, fought HIV/AIDS.
of posters – mostly from UCSF’s longest-running partners, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Shanti Project – represent outreach and educational
campaigns necessary to combat the disease. Materials from Mobilization Against AIDS and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
(ACT-UP) speak to the political battle that AIDS became.
the fifth floor of the library, displays touch on two more milestones following
first, UCSF’s sponsoring of the 6th International Conference on
AIDS, is one of the many
examples of how physicians and researchers have expanded their work on a global
scale. Revisiting this 1990 conference is timely, as the 23rd
International Conference on AIDS
will take place in Oakland and San Francisco in July next year – the first time
the conference will be in the Bay Area in nearly three decades.
second milestone, the founding of the AIDS Research Institute in 1996, puts a
focus on the UCSF’s continuing efforts to find a cure, and end HIV/AIDS once
and for all.
Garrett is a Peabody, Polk, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The collection features her research on HIV/AIDS and public health, correspondence, memorabilia, photographs, book and article drafts Garrett won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for her work chronicling the Ebola virus in Zaire published in Newsday. She is also a bestselling author of the book The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. Garrett has worked for National Public Radio, Newsday, and was a senior fellow for The Council of Foreign Relations. She has won many awards including the Award of Excellence from the National Association of Black Journalists and the Bob Considine Award of the Overseas Press Club of America. Researchers are already using the collection and have found great interest in her work.
The collection is organized into seven series which include research and subject files, correspondence, newsletters, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health and The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance drafts and notes, conferences, non-print material, correspondence, and memorabilia