Elba Clemente-Lambert and the Black Caucus Re-description Project

The latest round of the Black Caucus Re-description project has been completed and uploaded to Calisphere, with the Black Caucus records now fully reflecting the more than 400 items with updated descriptions and metadata through the fabulous work of Elba Clemente-Lambert — founding member of the UCSF Black Caucus.

First UCSF Black Caucus Gala Committee members; Left to right: Ethel Adams, Karen Newhouse, Avis Ransburg, Elba Clemente-Lambert, Diana Farley-Frierson, Darlene Carter Collins, Claudette “CJ” Johnson

Clemente-Lambert undertook the project to update photo descriptions over the course of 2020 and early 2021, working in batches. Many of the photos in question were photos she herself had taken. Clemente-Lambert reached out to her networks — contacting some of the many folks she had worked with over her years at UCSF, even talking with people as far away as Texas. She also reached deep into her own memory — sharing that she could, surprisingly to her, actually remember the names of many folks in photos. “Sometimes,” she said, “it would take me a day or two, but then all of a sudden I would just say the name.” Additionally, Clemente-Lambert has her own collection of Black Caucus event fliers which she was able to turn to to help remember attendees and speakers at events. She recounted that “It got chaotic!”, but after getting her procedures down she was able to record an immense amount of metadata to enrich the description of the Black Caucus records.

Former UCSF custodians gave Clemente-Lambert some of the most helpful information, especially James Aaron and Ernie Badger — nicknamed “Radio” because “he talked so much and knew everything about everybody”. They recounted how the early group would gather at “Soul Row” — a set of benches in the entryway to Medical Sciences building. As Clemente-Lambert shared, “that was a meeting place, a sacred place for us, even though it was out in the open.” The group also used to have bake sales right by the elevator to the cafeteria, knowing that they would get the most sales from hungry cafeteria-goers. 

Clemente-Lambert also noted significant assistance from others as well. Amy Levine of Women’s Resource center had worked closely with the Black Caucus on events, which they would always co-sponsor. Claudette Johnson, who had worked in the Chancellor’s Office, knew a lot of the people in photographs as well. Kathy Ballistari, who worked in hospital administration, knew a lot of people from the hospital and clinics, and also had a lot of “the names just came to me” moments. Linda Glasscock, Clemente-Lambert’s old manager in Labor Relations, also had a lot of helpful information.

 L to R: Denise Harvey, Edna Mayhand, Amy Levine, Leslie Simon, Janet ____ (unknown), Nellie Wong, guest speaker (unknown), Elba Clemente-Lambert.

The full-list of people who helped Clemente-Lambert with this project is as follows: James Aaron, Ethel Adams, Michael Adams, Ernie “Radio” Badger, Kathy Ballistari, Freeman Bradley, Anita Burton, Ira Butler, Sandy Canchola, Dorla Cantu, Charles Clary, Patricia Coleman, Susan Descalso, Diana Farley Frierson, Linda Glasscock, Corrine “Corky” Guttierez, Stan Hicks, Claudette Johnson, David Johnson, Kerry Johnson, Amy Levine, Fred Logan, Crystal Morris, Karen Newhouse, Sandra Norberg, Maryanne Penta, Drew Pitts, Paul Porter, Bob Rojas, Laurie Rojas, Eugene Salazar, Renee Saulter, Adrianne Sooy, Bill Stevens, Eric Vermillion, John Watson, Nancy Wright, Carol Yates

And finally, a big thank you to Jazmin Dew, the Archives staff-member who did much of the work to facilitate this project.

To explore more materials from the UCSF Black Caucus Records, check out the collection on Calisphere and the Online Archive of California (OAC)

Upcoming Workshop on Computer Programming for Grassroots Digital Archives

Don’t miss the upcoming workshop Our Collections Our Data: Grassroots Digital Archives and Computer Programming for Absolute Beginners. This four day workshop will take place online on 7/26, 7/30, 8/2, and 8/4, from 9:30am to 12:30pm (PDT) each day. The workshop will be led by Charlie Macquarie, UCSF Digital Archivist, and Dr. Clair Kronk, postdoctoral researcher at Yale University and creator of the Gender, Sex, and Sexual Orientation (GSSO) ontology, with a presentation from Krü Maekdo, founder of the Black Lesbian Archives, and assistance from Rebecca Tang, programmer with the UCSF Industry Documents Library.

For more information, please see our Library News post here: https://www.library.ucsf.edu/news/workshop-digital-archives-and-programming/

Register here: https://calendars.library.ucsf.edu/calendar/events/our-collections-our-data

This workshop is supported by California Revealed and administered in California by the State Librarian. The program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

UCSF Archives and Special Collections acquires and makes available the papers of Dr. Michael S. Gottlieb, pioneer HIV/AIDS researcher and clinician


By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accesioning Archivist

June 5, 1981 is widely known as the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States because it was the day that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the appearance of a cluster of diseases that would later come to be known as AIDS (Acquired Immune Difficiency Syndrome). The report, titled “Pneumocystis Pneumonia — Los Angeles,” was authored by five UCLA doctors: MS Gottlieb, MD, HM Schanker, MD, PT Fan, MD, A Saxon, MD, JD Weisman, DO, of the Division of Clinical Immunology-Allergy at the UCLA Medical Center. The article reports, “In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California.”[1] The primary author of this report, Doctor Michael S. Gottlieb – then 33 years old – made history as the person who discovered AIDS.  UCSF Archives & Special Collections is pleased to house Dr. Gottlieb’s archives, which are now processed and available for the first time. 

Photo of Dr. Michael Gottlieb by Elizabeth Nathane, originally published in the Los Angeles Blade

A record of his professional life and accomplishments, as well as the many honors and awards he received over the course of his career, the Michael S. Gottlieb papers contain published papers by Gottlieb and many others on AIDS-related topics. They also include information on various AIDS drug treatment studies (including AZT), professional and personal correspondence, and information about various talks and events attended by Gottlieb during the 1980s – a busy decade for him. They also document his prodigious philanthropic activities and AIDS advocacy.

Gottlieb figures prominently in this UCSF-generated timeline of the AIDS epidemic. The timeline, which begins with the 1981 MMWR report, notes that, in 1985, Rock Hudson – star of classic Hollywood films like Giant, All That Heaven Allows, and Written on the Wind – announced that he had AIDS and later died, becoming “the first major celebrity to succumb to the disease.”[1] Later that same year, the timeline reports, “The American Foundation for AIDS Research is founded with the help of movie star Elizabeth Taylor.” Gottlieb, who served as Rock Hudson’s physician from the time of his AIDS diagnosis to his death from the disease, was also one of the founding chairs of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, along with medical researcher Mathilde Krim and Taylor, who was a close friend of Hudson’s and his costar in Giant. The Foundation was established with a $250,000 gift from Hudson’s estate.  The Gottlieb papers also contain a fascinating trove of letters, which he dubbed “Crazy letters,” that he received after becoming publicly associated with Hudson in newspapers and the press. The letters indicate a fascination with the disease, which was still very new and widely misunderstood by the world at large.

If you’re interested in checking out the Michael S. Gottlieb papers, you can consult the finding aid or the library catalog record for the collection. The papers were a gift from Michael Gottlieb.

[1]Center for Disease Control. (1981, June 5). Pneumocystis Pneumonia — Los Angeles. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/june_5.htm

[2] Cisneros, Lisa. (2021, June 4). 40 Years of AIDS: A Timeline of the Epidemic. UCSF News. https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2021/06/420686/40-years-aids-timeline-epidemic