World AIDS Day: Digitizing The Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic   

On World AIDS Day we’re checking in on our NEH grant project to digitize large portions of our AIDS History Project collections.  For more information on the scope of the project see our previous post here. These collections illustrate for us the wide ranging impacts that AIDS has had on the Bay Area, and this project will allow us to share the stories of people with AIDS, the community groups galvanized to support them, and the researchers doggedly pursuing treatments and a cure here at UCSF.

Archivists at UCSF, San Francisco Public Library and the GLBT Historical Society have been reviewing collections, packing them up, and routing them through UCSF to the digitization lab at UC Merced.

Heather Wagner has been busily testing procedures, training students and coordinating workflows to move collection materials through digitization station. Papers, posters, diaries and other materials are run through high-speed sheet feed scanners, shot from overhead or on a cradle with a DSLR and carefully arranged lighting, or scanned on a flatbed scanner.

Scanning a poster from UCSF’s AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection at UC Merced.

We’ve digitized examples of materials requiring all these methods, look for full collections online at Calisphere.org in the coming weeks. here’s some examples from UCSF’s collections:

Bobbi Campbell was a nurse on staff at UCSF and was diagnosed with Kaposi’s Sarcoma in 1981.His diary is a vivid account of his personal life and activism as the “KS Poster Boy”. MSS 96-33 Bobbi Campbell Diary, page 39

 

A fundraising predecessor to today’s AIDS/Lifecycle . The Shanti Project provided one-on-one emotional and peer support for patients. “AIDS Bike-a-thon … Cycle for Shanti”, MSS 2000-31 AIDS History Project Ephemera Collecion

ACT-UP San Francisco Four Days in Washington DC, 1988. ACT-UP San Francisco Records, MSS 98-47

Volunteer Report: Working on the AIDS History Project

This is a guest post by Edith Martinez, UCSF Archives Volunteer.

Volunteering at the UCSF Archives has been a great learning experience. I have been able to help with the NHPRC grant project, Evolution of San Francisco’s Response to a Public Health Crisis: Providing Access to New AIDS History Collectionsan expansion of the AIDS History Project.

AIDS National Conference booklet, 1987. ATN records, MSS 94-28.

I have specifically been working on material from AIDS Treatment News, a biweekly newsletter started by John James in 1986 that reports on experimental and conventional treatments for HIV/AIDS and related conditions. ATN articles are based on information that James gathered from meetings, conferences, interviews, publications, and correspondence.

VIIIth International Conference on AIDS in Africa and VIIIth African Conference on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 1993. ATN records, MSS 94-28.

Working on this collection I realized that it is a lot of work organizing and processing. I’ve also learned more about the history of AIDS and found some really interesting items that I thought were fascinating. John James attended many conferences and saved many of the booklets from these conferences. The booklets for the VIIIth International Conference on AIDS in Africa and the AIDS National Conference in San Francisco are just some examples. Looking through these booklets and reading about the talks and workshops listed in each, one can see how AIDS prevention and treatment has progressed and changed over the years. It’s a true learning experience, and working on this collection has really helped me better understand AIDS history and archival work.

New Donald P. Francis Digital Collection

We’re highlighting the new digital collection of Donald P. Francis, CDC epidemiologist, pediatrician, and AIDS public health advocate. The digital collection includes selections from the Francis papers (MSS 2015-01) that we recently processed with the generous support of a National Archives NHPRC grant.

Francis grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended the University of California, Berkeley. He received his MD from Northwestern University, his Doctor of Science from Harvard University, and completed training in pediatrics. In 1971 he joined the CDC, where he continued to work for the next 21 years. At the CDC, he worked on a number of projects in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), including the Smallpox Eradication Program in Sudan and India. He was also part of the WHO team that investigated the first Ebola outbreak in 1976.

Francis began investigating HIV/AIDS after its emergence in 1981. He directed the AIDS laboratory at the CDC and worked closely with the Institut Pasteur to identify the causative virus. He called attention to the threat of AIDS among gay and straight people and warned of the inadequacy of the public health response and lack of funding. As he stated in a 1983 letter to CDC Center for Infectious Diseases Director Walter R. Dowdle, “Our past and present efforts have been and are far too small and we can’t be proud. It is time to do more. It is time to do what is right.”

In 1992, Francis joined Genentech and helped found what became the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Francis later co-founded VaxGen, which completed the world’s first Phase III trials of two candidate HIV vaccines in 2003. In 2004, Francis co-founded Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases (GSID) and he continues to consult regarding vaccines and public health.

You can view the digital collection on Calisphere. If you would like to research the Francis papers, please make an appointment with us.