They Were Really Us, AIDS History Exhibit, Opens on October 1

Featured

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.

On 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.

The 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 UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute:

“The 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.”

Early milestones

The first proofs of that commitment are traced through displays on the main lobby (third floor) of the UCSF Library.

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.

A loaned section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt caps off the displays.

Community voices

The 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.

Reproductions 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.

How much of an impact did these advocacy groups make? A selection of letters, written to the leaders of Mobilization Against AIDS and AIDS Treatment News, offer an idea.  

Continuing care

On the fifth floor of the library, displays touch on two more milestones following the 1980s.

The 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.

The 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.

They Were Really Us will be on view until September 2020: https://www.library.ucsf.edu/archives/lectures-exhibits/

Surviving and Thriving: A new exhibit at ZSFG

By Griffin Burgess

Announcing a new exhibit at ZSFG!

From January 28th to March 9th, the National Libraries of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture will be on display in the lobby of the main hospital (Building 25) at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

The exhibit is only available for six weeks, so be sure to visit as soon as you can!

From NLM:

The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980’s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years.

The title Surviving and Thriving comes from a book written in 1987 by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Jennifer Brier, the exhibition curator, explains that “centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.”

 Protestors in front of the James A. Shannon Building, National  Institutes of Health, 1990  Courtesy Donna Binder
Protestors in front of the James A. Shannon Building, National Institutes of Health, 1990 Courtesy Donna Binder

Surviving and Thriving presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis. The six-banner traveling exhibition utilizes a variety of historic photographs as well as images of pamphlets and publications to illustrate how a group of people responded to, or failed to respond, to HIV/AIDS.

Robert C. Gallo, M.D. at the National Institutes of Health, early 1980’s . Courtesy National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
Robert C. Gallo, M.D. at the National Institutes of Health, early 1980’s. Courtesy National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and curated by Jennifer Brier, PhD, University of Illinois.


Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, and UCSF Archives and Special Collections is celebrating with a number of events in the coming weeks to showcase our work as custodians of Health Sciences and UCSF History.

Wed October 3: #AskanArchivist Day

Join us and countless other repositories and Archival Institutions on Twitter using the hashtag #Askanarchivist

Pose your burning questions and curiosities about our collections, services and archives work in general.

Follow us on Twitter @ucsf_archives

 

Wed October 10:

ARCHIVES TALK: Medicine as Mission: Black Women Physicians’ Careers, 1864-1941

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections as we explore the little-known history of African American women physicians’ careers in medicine from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Through an extensive survey of the careers of all known African American women who practiced medicine in this period, a complicated portrait of both accomplishment and constraint emerges. This talk demonstrates that black women physicians succeeded in carrying out their demanding “missions” of attempting to address what we currently term “health disparities” in African American communities. Simultaneously, however, professionalized, scientific medicine in the twentieth century increasingly limited career opportunities available to black women physicians.

Speakers

Meg Vigil-Fowler, PhD is a historian of medicine who studies the intersecting histories of race, gender, and professionalization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She received her PhD from UCSF’s Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine earlier this year and is currently writing a book on the earliest African American women physicians.

Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD is the Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, charged with creating and maintaining a diverse university environment where everyone has an opportunity to excel. In her new role, Navarro will collaborate with faculty, staff and students to develop and carry out a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion at the campus – and in recruitment and retention of faculty, students, trainees and staff.

Aimee Medeiros, PhD is an Assistant Professor, History of Health Sciences at UCSF. Medeiros’s work focuses on the reciprocity between diagnoses, preventive care measures, and societal expectations of the body in medicine. Medeiros’s current projects include, Too Young to Die: The History of the Children’s Hospital in the U.S. and Health Sciences Data Laboratory (HSDL), which will complement Big Data efforts by generating historical medical data preserved from non-digital formats.

 

Saturday October 13: SF Archives Crawl

Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections, California Historical Society, San Francisco History Center, Society of California Pioneers, and Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University for San Francisco’s second Archives Crawl. The theme for the Archives Crawl is Immigration and Migration to California and we are celebrating in October, which is Archives Month!

Archives Crawl is designed to celebrate archives in the city and encourages guests to explore and engage with institutions that collect archival material. Visit institutions you may not have visited before, pose questions, learn more about what an archive is and what archivists do.

Find the UCSF Archives & Special Collections team at the SFPL Main Branch Library1pm – 5pm

More details visit the San Francisco Archives Crawl site.

 

Wed October 31

UCSF Archives Halloween Open House: Oddities of the Past

Get in the Halloween spirit and join UCSF Archives and Special Collections on October 31st and view selected pieces from the historical collections in the UCSF Library 5th Floor Reading Room. You will see “medical oddities” of the past including surgical kits, bloodletting tools and more!

Also make sure to drop by the Makers Lab Haunted House anytime from 10am-6pm.

 

Ongoing exhibit: Open Wide: 500 Years of Dentistry