UCSF Receives NNLM PSR Subaward: “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic: Digitizing and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records”

Featured

This Fall the UCSF Archives & Special Collections received a $138,370 subaward from the  Network of the National Library of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, for a project titled The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic: Digitizing and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records.

Black-and-white poster of on African American man reaching for another; Brothers offers services for African American gay/bisexual men and transgender people. UCSF AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection, MSS 2000-31, box 7, folder 9, item 22.
Black-and-white poster of on African American man reaching for another; Brothers offers services for African American gay/bisexual men and transgender people. UCSF AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection, MSS 2000-31, box 7, folder 9, item 22.

UCSF’s project supports a priority area for NLM and NIH by digitizing approximately 45,000 pages from 15 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area with the objective of making them widely accessible to the public. This project will chronicle the experience and struggles of communities of color and other marginalized communities during the onset of the AIDS epidemic.

This project will make publicly accessible experiences of communities that are “absent or excluded from the history of HIV/AIDS in the United States” [Jennifer Brier,  The Oral History Review, Volume 45, Issue 1]. Its goal is to include the voices of underrepresented and marginalized groups in the historical record and increase public impact of these archival collections. These collections cover diverse issues communities are faced with: poverty, racial and socio-economic segregation, health care policy inequalities, public health and sexual education and prevention, disparities in the HIV response, the impact of HIV on migrant communities, and the intersection of the criminal justice system and HIV.

It will build on the success and expand the UCSF’s AIDS history digital collection that was developed with the assistance from the Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2017-2019 and resulted in digitization of 160,197 pages from 35 archival collections from the three collaborating institutions: UCSF, San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society (GLBT HS).

Poster for AIDS Awareness week; San Francisco Community College district; San Francisco AIDS Foundation, 1986, artist: T.P. Ranger. UCSF AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection, MSS 2000-31, box 7, folder 9, item 23.
Poster for AIDS Awareness week; San Francisco Community College district; San Francisco AIDS Foundation, 1986, artist: T.P. Ranger. UCSF AIDS History Project Ephemera Collection, MSS 2000-31, box 7, folder 9, item 23.

The materials that will be digitized range from hand handwritten correspondence and notebooks to typed and printed reports and agency records. Photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, and posters will also be digitized. They will be added to a growing digital collection documenting the AIDS crisis established by UCSF on the California Digital Library platform, Calisphere and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) becoming publicly accessible around the world.  The materials will be digitized by the UC Merced Library’s Digital Assets Unit that has been partnering with UCSF on successful collaborative digitization projects for more than 10 years. All materials selected to be digitized will be carefully examined for privacy concerns and the archivists will consult with an existing Advisory Board.

UCSF plans to partner with NLM’s History of Medicine Division and DPLA to create a collaborative AIDS history primary source set on the Digital Public Library of America in order to disseminate the project results and enable their educational use. UCSF will also promote the availability of this resource to organizations in the San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, CA areas. This project is led by Polina Ilieva and Edith Escobedo serves as a project archivist.

Embracing the Future as Stewards of the Past: Historical Medical Collections in the 21st Century

This is a guest post by Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, Chief, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine

It is a privilege to offer this blog post as a follow-up and complement to my October 21, 2016, Archives Talk at UCSF, and to do so as my NLM colleagues and I work with our leadership to craft the NLM’s third century and encourage public feedback on its strategic planning process.

For several years now, the NLM’s History of Medicine Division has been embracing the future as we continue our mission to collect, preserve, make freely available, and curate for diverse audiences the NLM’s treasured historical collections, which span ten centuries. I’ve described this mission as stewardship of the past, and I have argued that it is not mutually exclusive of embracing the future. This is because to be the best steward of history during times of change, it is important to anticipate, explore, and chart the paths toward many possible futures. So what do I mean by embracing the future?

Embracing the future means facing change. It means engaging and grappling with it, because studying history can contribute meaningfully to contextualizing and shaping change.

Embracing the future means supporting open and “citizen-centered” government. It means enabling access to all, not just a few. It means engaging new audiences, not only the traditional ones. It involves engagement across the disciplines, and across the spectrum of the public, to ensure that scholars, educators, and interested people of today and tomorrow can have access to the world’s historical medical heritage for research, teaching, and learning.

NLM’s treasured historical collections span ten centuries and originate from nearly every part of the world. Our digitization of these materials, for greater access by researchers of all disciplines, goes hand in hand with our preservation of them, in their original form, for future generations of researchers.

Embracing the future means embracing fair use and supporting robust digitization as a means of both access and preservation, and achieving these goals through mutually-supportive public and private partnerships. Moreover, embracing the future means appreciating and understanding that digitized historical medical collections exist in a format appealing not only to those focused on deep reading and close study of individual works, but also to scholars and to entirely new audiences who are interested in mining these digital surrogates and their associated metadata data for more data-focused research. The evolving digital world is producing an ever-increasing volume of digitized physical material and born-digital resources. The worlds of “big data” and data science are meeting a longstanding world of persistent physical objects that contain records of the human condition. As these worlds collide and coexist, opportunities abound to advance interdisciplinary collaboration and expand cooperation among institutions and organizations that preserve history and support current and future medical research, and research in all disciplines.

A Chorus of Voices. Through its blog Circulating Now, the NLM is giving voice our patrons from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, whoeach in their own way and together recognize the research and educational value of our world-renowned historical collections.

Embracing the future means pursuing exhibitions and otherwise giving voice to theresearch and educational value of our historical collections as they speak to important contemporary and historical topics like confronting domestic violence, understanding AIDS, politics, and culture, exploring 20th-century healthcare professionalization, and revealing how meals offer insights into the relationships between and among individuals.

And finally, from a leadership perspective, embracing the future means meeting individuals where they stand, treating them as colleagues and as part of a team. It means supporting mentorship to advance careers, and continuous learning to advance interdisciplinary research and teaching focused on historical and contemporary issues of health and the human condition. These initiatives are not only keys to embracing the future of challenges and opportunities. They are keys to succeeding in that future.

To learn more about my thoughts about embracing the future as stewards of the past, you can read this article or, if you wish, watch my October 21, 2016, Archives Talk at UCSF.

Archives Talk 10/21/16: Historical Medical Collections in the 21st Century

Date: Friday, October 21, 2016
Time: 12 pm – 1:15 pm
Lecturer: Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD (NLM)
Location: Lange Room, 5th Floor, UCSF Library – Parnassus
530 Parnassus Ave, SF, CA 94143

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: http://calendars.library.ucsf.edu/event/2851245

 reznick-ucsf-oct-2016-embracing-the-future-as-stewards-of-the-past-historical-medical-collections-in-the-21st-centuryJoin UCSF Archives & Special Collections for an afternoon talk with Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, chief of the History of Medicine of the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest biomedical library, located on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus of the National Institutes of Health.
In this talk, Reznick will offer an NIH_NLM_Blueoverview of the division, its current partnerships and programs, and its future plans as he and his colleagues embrace the future as stewards of the past, as the NLM itself anticipates its third century under the leadership of Patricia Flatley Brennan, PhD, RN., RN.

Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, chief of the History of Medicine of the National Library of Medicine

Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, chief of the History of Medicine at the National Library of Medicine

Reznick joined the NLM in 2009 following his tenure as director of the Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Dr. Reznick’s record of scholarly historical research is as extensive as his executive career in the national nonprofit sector. As a social and cultural historian of medicine and war, he maintains and active research portfolio supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, and he is the author of two books, both published by Manchester University Press in its Cultural History of Modern War series, as well as numerous book reviews, articles for the popular press, and entries in major reference works.

About the UCSF Archives & Special Collections Lecture Series
UCSF Archives & Special Collections launched this lecture series to introduce a wider community to treasures and collections from its holdings, to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss how they use this material, and to celebrate clinicians, scientists, and health care professionals who donated their papers to the archives.