By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accessioning Archivist
Although, in 2020, advice like “wash your hands” and “cover
your mouth when you cough” seem fairly obvious and common sense, there was a
time when this was not the case. That time was March 1855, when the situation
in British hospitals outside of Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) during
the Crimean War had become so dire that Florence Nightingale and 40 other women
acting as trained volunteer nurses were finally allowed access to patients
(they had previously been denied access because of their gender). Hospitals
were overcrowded and extremely unsanitary conditions encouraged the spread of
infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, typhus and dysentery, which Nightingale
recognized immediately. She implemented basic cleanliness measures, such as
baths for patients, clean facilities, and fresh linens, and advocated for an
approach that addressed the psychological and emotional, as well as the
physical, needs of patients. Her improvements brought a dramatic decline in the
mortality rate at these hospitals, which had previously been as high as 40%.
While Nightingale is well known as one of the world’s first nurses, she is less well known for her strikingly lovely data visualizations (including pie charts and a rose-shaped design called the “coxcomb”), which she used to highlight the number of deaths from diseases, in addition to deaths from wounds or injury, during the Crimean War. Nightingale, a mathematician and statistician, recognized the importance of eye-catching visuals in communicating the impact of her innovations.
UCSF Archives & Special
Collections was awarded a $14,986 local assistance grant by the California
State Library for the “Documenting the LGBTQ Health Equity Movement in
California’s LGBTQ History
is a grant program that funds projects that support physical and/or digital
preservation and digitization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
(LGBTQ) materials relating to California history and culture. This California
State Library program will award a total of $500,000 in one-time grants for
projects from large archival institutions with a global reach, as well as
smaller, localized collections. The program aims to preserve materials that
demonstrate the significant role of LGBTQ Californians and the LGBTQ movement
in this state, as well as providing a more comprehensive and inclusive view of
The UCSF project will support
preservation through processing and partial digitization of two collections
documenting the LGBTQ health equity movement in California:
• San Francisco AIDS Foundation Magnet Program Records
• UCSF LGBT Resource Center Records
The San Francisco AIDS
Foundation (SFAF) Magnet Program is a health and wellness program located in
the SFAF’s Strut Center in the heart of the Castro District of San Francisco.
They offer community events, sexual health services, substance use counseling,
PrEP, HIV and STI testing, learning events and rotating art displays from queer
artists. In spring 2001, a Community
Advisory Board comprised of community members, social workers, and activists
began meeting regularly to discuss how to proceed with the development of a new
Gay Men’s Health Center. The new center chose
to address gay men’s health in innovative ways instead of simply replicating
existing programs in a new location. Since 2003, Magnet’s overarching vision
has been to promote the physical, mental, and social well-being of gay men.
Magnet activities are guided by the following core values of the agency:
self-determination, access, sexual expression, diversity, and leadership.
Magnet provides individual STI/HIV services and community programs including
book readings, art exhibits, town hall forums, and other social events. In 2007
Magnet merged with the SFAF to increase the services available to men
throughout the Bay Area. Magnet also serves transgender, gender non-conforming,
gender non-binary, and gender-queer people.
This collection includes
founding documents, surveys of clients, assessments of services, marketing
materials, advocacy campaigns, photographs, community art pieces, and posters
documenting the establishment and activities of the Magnet program.
The LGBT Resource Center
serves as the hub for all queer life at UCSF, including the campus and medical
center. It works toward creating and maintaining a safe, inclusive, and
equitable environment for LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, post-docs,
residents, fellows, alumni, and patients. It aims to sustain visibility and a
sense of community throughout the many campus sites. This community takes an
intersectional approach and is committed to building workplace equity,
promoting student and staff leadership, and providing high-quality,
culturally-congruent care to UCSF patients. Founded in 1998, it was the first
LGBT resource center in a health science institution.
This collection includes the center’s
founding documents, traces the earlier LGBT community activities in the 1970s
through the 1980s, and contains materials chronicling the history and evolution
of the center. It also includes records of diverse events organized by the
center: Coming Out Monologues, Trans Day of Remembrance & Resilience, and
Trans Day of Visibility, as well as correspondence and announcements related to
OUTlist, Mentoring Program, and Annual LGBTQIA+ Health Forum. These materials also
document UC-wide advocacy work for providing equal benefits for same-sex
The UCSF Archives & Special
Collections have been working on preserving materials documenting the LGBTQ
health equity movement in California. These two recently acquired collections
will enable researchers to investigate these communities’ efforts to address health-related
issues and advocate for health equity.
The Magnet collections allow researchers to
investigate how the “San Francisco model” of AIDS care continued to evolve in
the twenty-first century by providing free and equitable health care, education,
and community space. Both collections contribute to an understanding of the
medical, social, and political processes that merged to develop effective means
of treating those with AIDS and other illnesses.
Diverse audiences will benefit
from having access to this project’s archival collections, including scholars
in disciplines such as medicine, nursing, jurisprudence, journalism, history
and sociology, college students, and members of the general public pursuing
individual areas of interest.
The collections included in
this project are currently only accessible at the UCSF Archives reading room.
The digitization of these collections will grant access to these valuable
primary sources and other hard-to-find materials to scholars, students, and
others worldwide. This project will significantly expand the historical record
of the LGBTQ health equity movement in California and make a new corpus of
materials related to the movement’s progress discoverable to a broad audience.
Mauricio Velasco is a young emerging professional in the museum industry. Born in San Salvador, El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles, he relocated from Los Angeles to attend the University of San Francisco. At USF, he aims to further his education while simultaneously gaining more work experience; he is currently interning as a Guest Assistant Curator for the University of California, San Francisco where he is assisting on their newest exhibition on AIDS titled, “They Were Really Us: UCSF’s Early Response to the AIDS Epidemic”.
As an Anthropology Major from the University of California, Riverside, Mauricio has a background in the study of human societies and cultural development. During his early college years he worked as an art handler and preparator in his university’s museum, which is composed of three distinct spaces: The California Museum of Photography, Sweeney Art Gallery, and Barbara & Art Culver Center of the Arts. Shortly after obtaining his BA, he started an Internship in the Collections Department at The Wende Museum of the Cold War. The Wende Museum is an art museum, historical archive, and educational institution located in Culver City, California. It is here that he worked other unique jobs found in the museum industry like that of a registrar, docent, and event staff member. After working at his university’s museum and The Wende Museum, Mauricio decided he wanted to have a career in the museum industry because of his love for the arts. Mauricio applied to the University of San Francisco’s Museum Studies Program shortly after.
Mauricio is now looking to network and collaborate with like-minded people who wish to push the envelope on what a museum can do as a public institution for its community. He is especially interested in cultural and historical museums. In his spare time he likes some rest and relaxation. When traveling, he is sure to visit the local museum, whether it is in Auckland, New Zealand, at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki or at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.