Archives Staff Volunteer Day

Last week all of us in Archives got together to do a volunteer day with the Sutro Stewards working in their nursery and doing maintenance on the Sutro Forest. You might think of the Archives as a bookish place, but we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty with other kinds of stewardship besides the historical. As spits of rain began to fall we climbed the hill to the summit of Mt. Sutro to spend a day digging in the dirt and working in the weeds and the fog.

The Sutro Stewards work to conserve habitat through ecological restoration and native plant propagation while providing recreational opportunities in the UCSF Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve. We were led in our work by Amy Kaeser, executive director of the stewards, who explained the group’s activities collecting and propagating native Bay area plants in their nursery and restoring native habitat while building and maintaining trails and recreational facilities on the mountain.

Amy Kaeser speaking to archives staff.

Amy Kaeser talks to archives staff about the Sutro Stewards Nursery operations.

Our volunteer tasks for the day consisted of re-potting plants in the nursery and weeding areas in the field where native plants had recently been re-introduced. Half of us started by re-potting native Yerba Buena, Sticky Monkey, and Columbine plants that needed bigger pots to continue their life. We finished almost 200 of these by the end of the day.

The other half of us ventured out into the field to pull weeds (himalayan blackberry, cape ivy, and nasturtium) from newly-planted plots where natives were being in the process of being re-introduced. We successfully pulled innumerable weeds, and also discovered several buckets worth of weird trash, all while learning about the ecology of the Sutro forest and mountaintop. Did you know that you can eat the seed pods of nasturtium? They taste a bit like horseradish.

Archives staff pulling weeds from hillside while our crew leader talks to someone in the foreground.

Archives staff pulling weeds from newly planted areas.

We had a great day digging in the dirt, being outside, and helping re-introduce some of the natural biodiversity back to Mt. Sutro. As much as we love the vaults, it’s always good to get some sunshine (or, in this case, fog and rain).

Archives staff posing in the nursery for a group photo

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.

Archives Open Houses

October is coming to a close, and with it our Archives Month festivities, but we still have two open houses in the next week for those who would like to come and check out our reading room and some of our materials:

On Saturday, October 28th, we are participating in the San Francisco Archives Crawl, and our reading room will be open from noon until 5pm. On display will be materials from our collections that document counterculture and protest movements, including records from the UCSF Black Caucus, AIDS History Project materials, and selections from the Tobacco Control Archives.

On Monday, October 30th, we will be holding our 2nd annual Halloween Open House from noon until 3pm, where we will showcase some of our “spooky” holdings. This event is being held in conjunction with the Library Maker’s Lab Halloween event, and we will have a button maker available on the 5th floor for those who would like to create Halloween-themed buttons and magnets based upon materials in our collections.

One of the objects on display for our Halloween Open House is our 1883 edition of the Heinrich Hoffmann children’s book, Der Struwwelpeter (or Shockheaded Peter). The book itself is well-known for its collection of rhyming allegories about the dangers of children misbehaving, such as our title character pictured below, who is named Peter and has some shockingly bad grooming habits.

Bound with our copy of Der Struwwelpeter is an adaption of the same work from 1882 by an Obstetrical-Gynecological society that was evidently distributed at a society dinner. Frighteningly, whoever decided to do the adaption chose to focus on childhood disease, instead of misbehavior, and illustrate each disease with it’s own drawing. Even the “normal child” pictured below is a bit unsettling!