World AIDS Day – Documenting the Epidemic

The UCSF Archives & Special Collections started building the AIDS History collection almost 30 years ago, in 1987. Early on, the archivists decided to create a collection development policy that would allow researchers to examine diverse aspects of the AIDS epidemic, including political, social, economic, cultural, and biomedical aspects.

The AIDS History Project holdings at UCSF currently include 39 collections; all of them are cataloged and 32 are processed and have detailed inventories. The recently-acquired seven new collections, comprising a total of 373 linear feet, are not yet processed, and the archives are working to secure funding to arrange and describe them. In the past year we added the following collections to our holdings:

John S. Greenspan papers

—John Greenspan, BDS, PhD, and Deborah Greenspan, DSc, BDS, ca. 1984

—John Greenspan, BDS, PhD, and Deborah Greenspan, DSc, BDS, ca. 1984

A faculty member at UCSF since 1976, John S. Greenspan is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology in the Department of Orofacial Sciences. He is a Director-Emeritus of the AIDS Research Institute, which he led from 2003 to 2012, and is the founding Director of the UCSF Oral AIDS Center, as well as UCSF AIDS Specimen Bank. He was the Director of the UCSF AIDS Clinical Research Center/California AIDS Research Center from 1992 to 2005.

His research interests include the global health aspects of AIDS. His own work is rooted in studies of oral aspects of AIDS and the role of viruses in oral epithelial and salivary gland lesions. He and his colleagues have made major contributions to HIV research and care, notably the discovery of the lesion hairy leukoplakia, its association with EBV, and the significance of this and other oral lesions in the natural history of HIV diseases. His papers include correspondence, presentations, lectures, research data and notes, teaching materials, records related to administration of the AIDS Research Institute and AIDS Specimen Bank.

Don Francis papers, MSS 2015-01

Donald P. Francis

Donald P. Francis

As an infectious disease trained pediatrician and epidemiologist, Dr. Francis has over 30 years of experience in epidemic control and vaccines. He spent 21 years working for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) focusing on vaccine-preventable diseases. Dr. Francis has worked on HIV/AIDS since its emergence in 1981. He initially directed the AIDS laboratory at the CDC and worked closely with the Institut Pasteur to identify the causative virus. His early efforts to call attention to the threat of AIDS and warn of the inadequacy of the public health response were chronicled in the book by Randy Shilts And the Band Played On. In 1992, he joined Genentech to spend full time developing vaccines, while he also helped found what became the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Dr. Francis co-founded VaxGen, which completed the world’s first Phase III trials of two candidate HIV vaccines in 2003. His papers include correspondence, news-clippings, research data and notes, conference and presentation materials, and ephemera.

AIDS Treatment News, MSS 94–28 – 2015 addition

This recent donation of more than 68 linear feet complements the ATN records that were transferred to the archives in 1994.

Title page of AIDS Treatment News, Issue #3, May 9, 1986

Title page of AIDS Treatment News, Issue #3, May 9, 1986

AIDS Treatment News (ATN) was a biweekly newsletter that reported on both orthodox and experimental treatments of AIDS-related conditions. AIDS Treatment News was frequently the first publication to investigate and write about potential new treatments, clinical trials, and the politics involved in government sanctioned and alternative therapeutics. It was a primary resource for community-based organizations and government agencies, and was also read by many physicians and scientists involved in AIDS research and care. These records include correspondence, telephone logs, presentations, minutes of meetings, photographs, and news clippings.

The mission of the UCSF AHP has broadened from the initial goal of identifying, surveying and describing at-risk records of educational and professional institutions, non-profit service organizations and ad hoc community-based organizations that emerged in San Francisco in the early years of AIDS epidemic.

The multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach to collection development has led UCSF Archives & Special Collections to create a complex and comprehensive AIDS history research collection that documents not only medical aspects of the epidemic, but also changes in cultural values and shifts in policy and social response. UCSF Archives is continuing to build an inclusive AIDS history research collection where patients, activists, researchers, clinicians, journalists, and community based organizations’ perspectives will be preserved and will allow current and future generations of researchers to examine and learn from these materials.

UCSF Archives poster (designed by Mark McGowan)

UCSF Archives poster (designed by Mark McGowan)

The need to preserve and provide access to these materials was reinforced by two recent initiatives:

Dan Royles posted a call to action in the October issue of the AHA’s Perspectives on History to teach AIDS history to undergraduates: https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/october-2016/silence-death-its-time-to-teach-aids-history

The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory organized a meeting, “HIV/AIDS Research: Its History & Future” that brought together more than 125 pioneering scientists and clinicians who discussed the key scientific, epidemiological, and clinical discoveries that created this field and stressed the importance of preserving the past to find ways to address and control epidemics in the future: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/gathering-hivaids-pioneers-raw-memories-mix-current-conflicts

The archivists are collaborating with the UCSF AIDS Research Institute on collection development and public outreach efforts and today, to commemorate the World AIDS Day, we will be presenting two posters at the amfAR HIV Cure Summit at Mission Bay campus.

The UCSF Archives is open to anyone regardless of institutional affiliation, to make an appointment to see these materials, please use this contact form.

Archives Talk 12/2/2016: Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon

Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon book cover.

Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2016
Time: 12 pm – 1:15 pm
Lecturer: Paul Blanc, MD, MSPH (UCSF)
Location: Lange Room, 5th Floor, UCSF Library – Parnassus
530 Parnassus Ave, SF, CA 94143

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: http://calendars.library.ucsf.edu/event/2941746

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections for an afternoon talk with medical historian and author Paul Blanc MD, MSPH, as he discusses the toxic legacy of viscose rayon portrayed in his new book, Fake Silk. Dr. Blanc poses a basic question: When a new technology makes people ill, how high does the body count have to be before protective steps are taken? His work tells a dark story of hazardous manufacturing, poisonous materials, environmental abuses, political machinations, and economics trumping safety concerns. It explores the century-long history of “fake silk,” or cellulose viscose, used to produce such products as rayon textiles and tires, cellophane, and everyday kitchen sponges. His research uncovers the grim history of a product that crippled and even served a death sentence to many industry workers while also releasing toxic carbon disulfide into the environment.

Viscose, an innovative and lucrative product first introduced in the early twentieth century, quickly became a multinational corporate enterprise. Blanc investigates industry practices from the beginning through two highly profitable world wars, the mid-century export of hazardous manufacturing to developing countries, and the current “green-washing” of viscose as an eco-friendly product. This work brings to light an industrial hazard whose egregious history ranks with those of asbestos, lead, and mercury.

Paul Blanc, MD, MSPH (UCSF)

Paul Blanc, MD, MSPH

Dr. Blanc holds the Endowed Chair in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the UCSF, where he has been a faculty member since 1988. Blanc received his BA from Goddard College (Plainfield, Vermont), where he first became interested in health and the environment, later training at the Harvard School of Public Health (in industrial hygiene), the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and Cook County Hospital (in a joint Occupational Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency). He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCSF and later a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He also has been a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center (Bellagio, Italy) and the American Academy in Rome. In 2013-4, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Blanc is the author of How Everyday Products Make People Sick (University of California Press, 2009) also writes a blog, “Household Hazards,” that is hosted by the magazine Psychology Today. Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon is published by Yale University Press.

UCSF Archives & Special Collections launched this lecture series to introduce a wider community to treasures and collections from its holdings, to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss how they use this material, and to celebrate clinicians, scientists, and health care professionals who donated their papers to the archives.

St. Joseph College of Nursing

Recently, we’ve been adding material to our digital collections on Calisphere.org. One highlight is the St. Joseph College of Nursing Collection.

Nuns gathered around an iron lung. St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.

The digital collection includes selected images from the St. Joseph College of Nursing papers and Alumni Association records. St. Joseph College of Nursing was established in 1921 as an affiliate of St. Joseph’s Hospital. The hospital was founded in San Francisco in 1889 by five Catholic sisters of the Order of Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Though the hospital and school closed in the late 1970s, the Alumni Association continued activity until 2015.

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Promotional cards for St. Joseph’s Hospital, San Francisco. The hospital and college buildings were located on the 300 block of Buena Vista Avenue East. St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.

Sister M. Frida and researchers in the Pathology Laboratory, circa 1939.  St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.

The collection documents the educational activities of the school as well as the patient care and research performed by the sisters and students. Visit the digital collection to view more images or make an appointment with us to view the material in person.

Nurse with child in St. Joseph's Hospital Pediatric Ward, circa 1940-1960. St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.

Nurse with child in St. Joseph’s Hospital Pediatric Ward, circa 1940-1960. St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.

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St. Joseph’s Hospital Pharmacy, circa 1940-1960. St. Joseph College of Nursing collection.