Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today marks the 20th observance of World AIDS Day. Materials documenting the impact of this devastating disease and humanity's response to it -- which ranges from the appalling to the inspiring are starting to make their way into archives throughout the world.

Below is an incomplete listing of finding aids describing American archival collections relating to HIV/AIDS and various individual and organizational responses to it; judging from the amount of time it took me to assemble the following list, developing a comprehensive list would require immense effort.

Looking over this list, I'm extremely proud of my profession: it looks as if we're rising to the challenge of documenting the impact of AIDS on American life and culture. At the same time, I'm profoundly sobered. Some of these records document human decency and the manner in which activism and scientific innovation have made HIV/AIDS a less stigmatized and much more manageable disease, at least within the First World; there are lots and lots of HIV+ people who can reasonably expect to lead long, active, and rewarding lives, and for that I am deeply grateful. However, other records listed below chronicle hysteria, prejudice, and, of course, the untimely deaths of people both prominent and obscure. In some respects, this list is a butcher's bill.

As the documentary record of the impact of HIV/AIDS grows, let's hope that an ever-increasing percentage of the records chronicle the development of improved treatments, the increasing availability of those treatments to people in less affluent nations, and the rise of effective prevention programs that reduce the need for treatment in the first place.

California State Archives
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Cornell University, Human Sexuality Collection
Foundation of New York State Nurses, Bellevue Alumnae Center
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA)
Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library
Minnesota Historical Society
New York Public Library
(Manuscripts and Archives Division, Humanities Library, unless otherwise noted)
New York University
Northeastern University
ONE Gay and Lesbian Archives
San Francisco Public Library
San Jose State University
University at Albany, SUNY

University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Francisco
University of Chicago, Special Collections
Yale University, Manuscripts and Archives

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