The UCSF Archives & Special Collections was the pioneering repository that collected materials documenting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The UCSF AIDS History Project (AHP) began in 1987 as a joint effort of historians, archivists, AIDS activists, health care providers and others to secure historically significant resources of the response to the AIDS crisis in the city of San Francisco.
Starting in 1991 the Archives received several grants from National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to fund the survey, acquisition, arrangement, and description of carefully selected records from numerous AIDS-related agencies and organizations in San Francisco.
San Franciscans, especially LGBT community, quickly began responding to the mysterious health care crisis as soon as its scope and mortality rate became evident. Working long hours on a voluntary basis, activists began to create community-based organizations (CBOs) to deal with needs of the growing number of sick and dying, respond to the fear and grief of friends and loved ones, and serve as centers for compiling and disseminating information. Over time a very effective collaboration of city and state agencies, hospitals, health care providers, political activists, and CBOs evolved and became tagged as “the San Francisco model” of AIDS care. An extensive array of services developed to help people from various communities affected by HIV. One of the primary objectives of the AHP was to capture this complex evolution and to also provide instruction in records management practices to the CBOs. With the help of NHPRC, the Archives continued acquiring and processing new collections.
The last NHPRC grant in 2004-2006 funded the AIDS Epidemic Historical Records Project, a collaboration of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS) and UCSF Archives & Special Collections, and permitted to complete the processing of 18 existing collections. In addition, UCSF acquired records from the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, and the UCSF AIDS Health Project. GLBTHS acquired records of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Shanti Project.
AHP continues to grow and earlier this year Prof. Nancy Stoller donated materials that were added to her papers containing research files for the book Lessons from the Damned: Queers, Whores and Junkies Respond to AIDS. AHP collections remain the most heavily used among our manuscript holdings. Read more about the AHP and view the list of collections on the Archives website.
Cover of Newsweek magazine, August 8, 1983. Bobbi Campbell (on the left) identified as a person “who has the disease” and his boyfriend appeared on the cover of Newsweek for an article about AIDS’ impact on gay men (although the magazine described his partner Bobby Hilliard as his ‘friend’). Bobbi Campbell Diary, MSS 96-33, folder 1. UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, Archives and Special Collections, University of California, San Francisco.