HIV and AIDS 30 Years Ago

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Archives Center


Archives Center


Archiving the History of an Epidemic:
HIV and AIDS, 1985-2009

The collections in the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center document diverse aspects of the history and culture of the United States. The oral histories, ephemera, and popular culture materials housed here provide researchers an opportunity to learn how individuals and society are affected by—and cope with—the epidemic.

Quotes in this exhibit are taken from two Archives Center Collections, the Victory Deferred Collection and the Shamrock Bar collection.

John-Manuel Andriote interviewed nearly 200 individuals for his 1999 book, Victory Deferred: how AIDS changed gay life in America. Andriote donated his interviews and research materials to the Archives Center in 2008.

Carol Burch Brown photographed and interviewed the owner and patrons of the Shamrock Bar, a working-class gay bar in Bluefield, West Virginia, between 1997 and 2002. In 2003, she donated her photographs, tape-recorded interviews, and interview transcripts to the Archives Center.

Quotes from these collections compliment the ephemera collected by the Archives Center while adding context and meaning.

Items in the Archives Center Collection

John-Manuel Andriote interviewed nearly 200 individuals for his 1999 book, Victory Deferred: how AIDS changed gay life in America.  In the book’s preface he stated, “I wrote Victory Deferred  because, despite the abundance of books written…

In the film Philadelphia, gay lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), is fired from his conservative law firm because he has AIDS.  Beckett sues his former employer with the help of Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a homophobic lawyer.  Miller overcomes…

Set in Manhattan and on Fire Island, the film Longtime Companion follows the lives of a small circle of friends from the first mention of AIDS in 1981.  As the story progresses, the disease devastates the characters’ lives, touching each one in a…

In the television film An Early Frost, Michael Pierson (Aidan Quinn) is a young gay man with AIDS.  Forced to be open about his homosexuality and the disease, he must also face the inevitability of his death.  At a time when AIDS was seen as a…

The Brig was a gay bar located in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, MD.  The bar and bathhouse culture within the gay community was criticized by many both within and outside the community.  It was seen by some as an unintended venue to spread HIV…