UC Merced Library Playing Powerful Role to Document Early AIDS Epidemic History

The UC Merced Library’s Digital Assets Unit is working to digitize about 127,000 pages from 49 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area and make them widely accessible to the public online.

The incredible efforts by the UC Merced Library Staff are part of a 24-month project, “The San Francisco Bay Area’s Response to the AIDS Epidemic:  Digitizing, Reuniting, and Providing Universal Access to Historical AIDS Records”.

The project is a collaborative effort by UC Merced, the Archives and Special Collections department of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Library, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) Historical Society.  Funding for the project was awarded by a $315,000 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Haipeng Li, University Librarian, University of California, Merced Library stated that “the UC Merced Library is very pleased to be partnering on this project, which builds upon our long-standing collaboration with UCSF Library to digitize rare and unique materials in the health sciences. Our students and researchers, especially those involved in UC Merced’s growing public health program, will benefit from wider access to the AIDS history materials and I am sure the experience and expertise of our staff will enable them to contribute significantly to the success of the project.”

The AIDS epidemic became one of the most significant public-health events of the late-twentieth century, continuing into the twenty-first. San Francisco was particularly hard hit by AIDS, in part because, by the early 1980s, it had become a welcoming place for gay men who moved from throughout the country and around the world to experience a flourishing community.

Read more about UC Merced’s role here and more about the project here.

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