New HIV/AIDS History Material on Calisphere

Highlighting some recently added HIV/AIDS history material now available on our digital collections on Calisphere:

AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection

Material includes posters and pamphlets related to the medical and/or social aspects of AIDS and HIV, with a focus on prevention and on addressing misconceptions about the virus and disease. Call number: MSS 2000-31.

Campbell (Bobbi) Diary

Selected material from the diary of Bobbi Campbell, nurse and self-identified “AIDS Poster Boy.” Campbell was one of the first and most public People with AIDS (PWAs), speaking at numerous conferences and other events. The diary is dated July 1983 through February 1984. Call number: MSS 96-33.

Sally Hughes AIDS Research Collection

Selections from research materials collected by historian Sally Hughes in preparation for AIDS oral histories that she conducted. The interviews document the experiences of physicians, nurses, and scientists who played key roles in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Call number: MSS 2001-04.

AIDS-Patient Needs flowchart. Sally Hughes AIDS Research Collection.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation Records

Material from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, an organization founded in 1982 to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care. Call number: MSS 94-60.

San Francisco General Hospital Ward 84/86 Records

Selections from the records of San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Ward 84/86, one of the first clinics in the country to treat and care for HIV/AIDS patients. Call number: MSS 94-61.

Staff of SFGH Ward 84/86, circa 1985. San Francisco General Hospital Ward 84/86 Records.

As we begin our recently awarded NHPRC grant to provide access to new AIDS history collections, we will be adding more digital items to Calisphere. We will keep you posted as we continue to update our collections.

Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS

As we prepare for our upcoming NHPRC grant project, Evolution of San Francisco’s Response to a Public Health Crisis: Providing Access to New AIDS History Collections, we wanted to highlight some of the work researchers have created using our AIDS History Project collections.

Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS

Thomas Packard, PhD, postdoctoral scholar and HIV researcher with Gladstone Institutes, recently visited us and dug into the collections. Read his complete article, “Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS” on his blog.

Bobbi Campbell, Person With AIDS, Activist. Photo Credit: Roger Ressmeyer.

Excerpt from Thomas Packard’s “Fighting the Plague: A Story of HIV/AIDS”:

In the beginning of the twentieth century, a plague was born. A new retrovirus started infecting humans that would later be named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Though it wasn’t the first retrovirus to infect humans, it became the most feared, deadly, studied, and written about….Though this a story about a plague, which means it’s about fear and death, it’s more about fighting for life, the extraordinary strength of humanity, and crafting new weapons against the virus using research and medicine.

Following a jump from monkeys to humans over a hundred years ago, HIV lurked in Africa near the Congo River. It was unknown to medicine until an outbreak in the gay populations of San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles in 1980. We may never understand the full implications of the unlucky fact that HIV exploded into popular awareness as a disease associated with homosexuality. Entrenched intolerance caused a cross-pollination of stigma: this was a disease of the other.

Naming a disease “Gay Cancer” or “Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID),” as it was called in the early eighties, sounds ridiculous today. Of course, HIV doesn’t care if you’re gay or straight. The cancer component came from associations with KS (Kaposi’s Sarcoma), a type of skin cancer caused by a virus that can attack when your immune system is not functioning. This type of sickness is called an “opportunistic infection”, which means that the germ exploits an opportunity — the crack in immune defense — to infect a person. These opportunistic infections (commonly Pneumocystis pneumonia and KS, but also many others) are the executioners of the HIV/AIDS death sentence. It was the sudden appearance of these diseases among young gay men that were the harbingers of a plague.

Though popular opinion in the early eighties was largely ignorant or unsupportive, a group of heroes in the gay community, healthcare workers, and scientists became our first fighters in the new war. As an HIV researcher today, living in San Francisco and talking with the pioneers that are still alive, I feel very lucky to do my part as a new group of scientists on the front lines of HIV research. The early chapter of HIV history is incredible, and my brief exposure to it has changed my perspective, fundamentally shifted my reasons for research, and given me a deep love for the humans involved…Read the complete article.

NHPRC awarded a grant to UCSF Archives and Special Collections

NHPRC logo

UCSF Archives and Special Collections (A&SC) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a 2016 National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) grant from the National Archives in support of the project, Evolution of San Francisco’s Response to a Public Health Crisis: Providing Access to New AIDS History Collections, an expansion of the AIDS History Project (AHP).

The project will greatly expand the historical record of San Francisco’s broad-based response to the AIDS public health crisis, and make discoverable and accessible by a wide audience a new corpus of materials related to the evolution of that response. These collections reveal breakthroughs in containing the AIDS epidemic and treating AIDS patients that were made possible by the collaborative efforts of educators, researchers, clinicians, and community advocates. The collections included in this grant are interconnected and form a unique body of research materials.

Dr. Selma Dritz, ca. 1982. MSS 2001-04.

The $86,258 award will aid in creating and making accessible detailed finding aids for seven recently acquired collections comprising a total of 373 linear feet. These collections range from the research files of science writer Laurie Garrett and the papers of Drs. Don Francis and John Greenspan of UCSF and Selma Dritz of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, to the records of two UCSF entities, the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the AIDS Health Project, and files from the early and pioneering publication AIDS Treatment News, produced by community activist John James. Diverse audiences will benefit from having access to the archival collections comprising this new project. They include scholars and students in disciplines such as history, literature, medicine, jurisprudence, journalism, and sociology,and members of the general public pursuing individual areas of interest, especially younger members of the GLBT community who seek a better understanding of this important period in history.

A small portion of the collections will be digitized and made accessible online. This 18-month project will commence on March 1, 2017.

A&SC would like to thank the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, the California Historical Records Advisory Board, and other supporters for their help with this proposal.

About UCSF Archives & Special Collections
The mission of the UCSF Archives & Special Collections is to identify, collect, organize, interpret, and maintain rare and unique material to support research and teaching of the health sciences and medical humanities and to preserve institutional memory.

Please contact Polina Ilieva, Head of UCSF Archives & Special Collections with questions about this award.

Download a copy of the press release ArchivesJan2017_NHPRC_grant.