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Guide to the AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection 1993.001

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 04, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1988-1993
Dates [bulk]: 1992
Abstract: This collection includes oral histories collected for the AIDS/Brooklyn exhibition, undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society in the early 1990s. The project attempted to document the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Brooklyn communities.
Quantity: 46.79 Gigabytes in 133 files, total running time: 34 hr., 2 min., 59 sec.; 2.5 linear feet in 6 boxes
Call Phrase: 1993.001
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, 'Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn's Cultural Identity,' funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Historical Note

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can lead to acquired deficiency syndrome (AIDS), was thought to have begun in New York City's gay communities in the early 1980s, due in part because of the large number of gay men who lost their lives during the 1980s and early 1990s to the illness. During this time, death was a common outcome. Over the same period, it came to be understood that the illness did not originate with homosexuals, nor was it only impacting them. In early 1992, Gay Men's Health Crisis reported that statewide, over 40,000 citizens had been diagnosed with AIDS. An additional 360,000 more had contracted HIV by that time, as estimated by New York State's Department of Health.

Brooklyn Historical Society began preparing the exhibition AIDS/Brooklyn in 1991. David M. Kahn, executive director of BHS at that time, had lost his lover Ron Wogaman to an AIDS-related illness earlier that year. With a goal of documenting the crisis in Brooklyn through the material culture, personal narratives and life histories of those living with HIV/AIDS, BHS opened the exhibition in April of 1993. The exhibition not only informed of the experience of people living with the virus, but told of the precipitating factors and collateral effects; the strain on their neighbors, friends and family members, practices and attitudes with regard to drug use and sex, prejudice and discrimination in communities, and activist responses. Until that time, only art exhibitions had been inspired by the calamity of HIV/AIDS. In the museum establishment, BHS was seen as having pushed the boundaries of what an AIDS exhibition could do.

Simultaneous with the exhibition, the borough of Brooklyn had an estimated 35,000 cases of HIV. There, as in the rest of the nation, the disease had disproportionately affected the African-American and Latino/a communities along with the gay community. Brooklyn, however, was experiencing demographic shifts in the spread of AIDS that differed from the considerable high-impact zone of Manhattan. The disease was impacting women and children in Kings County; over 1800 women were infected in 1992, according to the city's AIDS Surveillance Unit.

Nationwide, estimated deaths from AIDS peaked in 1995; over 50,000 U.S. residents died that year. Due primarily to multi-drug treatment and lowering infection rates, the number has declined ever since. However, due in part to minimal cultural awareness and dissemination of HIV/AIDS information in impacted communities, that decline has been uneven across different demographic groups.

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Scope and Contents

The AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection includes oral histories conducted for an exhibition undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society in 1993. The project attempted to document the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Brooklyn communities. Recordings initially made on magnetic tape concerned the epidemic and were with narrators who had firsthand experience with the crisis in their communities, families and personal life. Narrators came from diverse backgrounds within Brooklyn and the New York metropolitan area and had unique experiences which connected them with HIV/AIDS. Substantive topics of hemophilia, sexual behavior, substance abuse, medical practice, social work, homelessness, activism, childhood, relationships and parenting run through at least one, and often several, of the oral histories in the collection.

Arrangement

The AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection is organized into four series based on format.

Series 1: Oral Histories consists of digitized oral history interview recordings. The series of oral histories was largely arranged alphabetically by the narrator's last name.

Series 2: Oral History Transcripts includes transcripts of several interviews, also arranged alphabetically by narrator's last name. Interview abstracts are located in the "Summaries" folder in box 1.

Series 3: Research Materials is made from what was gathered and generated through the oral history project and exhibition. The materials relate directly to the AIDS epidemic in Brooklyn, as well as to AIDS/HIV in the New York metropolitan area. This series includes magazines, books, pamphlets, articles, biographies, a radio program and resource lists. The research materials are located in three boxes and one binder.

Series 4: Magnetic Tapes consists of oral history interview recordings on original videotape and audiotape recordings and duplicate audiotape recordings. The oral history tapes are labeled with narrator names and interview dates, and arranged in an arbitrary order in two boxes.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Transcripts
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Interviews (sound recordings)
  • Exhibition records

Subject Organizations

  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • ACT UP New York (Organization)

Subject Topics

  • Hospitals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers with varied restrictions according to narrator agreement. Oral histories can be accessed onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Research materials are open to researchers upon request and are accessible onsite at the Othmer Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. Please see the Oral History Note for guidelines on using Brooklyn Historyical Society's oral history collections. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Preferred Citation

[Narrator Last Name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer First name Last name], Interview Date [Month day, YYYY], AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection, [Object ID]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials

In addition to this collection, Brooklyn Historical Society has one oral history recording also related to the AIDS crisis in Brooklyn:

• The Crown Heights History Project oral histories (1994.006) includes a 1993 interview with Dellon Wilson, a volunteer in the AIDS community.

For more information on this collection please visit our online finding aid portal.

Related collections located elsewhere include:

• The AIDS Activist Videotape Collection, 1985-2000 at the New York Public Library (MssCol 3622) includes an interview with Iris De La Cruz and a series of oral histories conducted by Gay Men's Health Crisis.

• The ACT UP Oral History Project videotapes, 2002-2008, at the New York Public Library (MssCol 6148)

 

Oral History note

Oral history interviews are intimate conversations between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share these recordings with the Brooklyn Historical Society archives and with researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. Researchers will understand that:

1. The Brooklyn Historical Society abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association (2009) and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

2. Every oral history relies on the memories, views and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

3. Transcripts created prior to 2008 serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. It may contain natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, repetitions that are common in conversation, and other passages and phrases omitted from the transcript. This decision was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns.

4. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator's speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The oral histories that make up this collection were compiled by a team including a project director, researcher and a research assistant. Staff for this project included Dwandalyn Reece King (Chief Curator), Robert Rosenberg (Project Director and Interviewer), Robert Sember (Researcher and Interviewer), and Kathryn Pope (Research Assistant).

Processing Information

Most recordings and transcripts were digitized in late 2015 and early 2016. Series 1: Oral Histories of the AIDS-Brooklyn Oral History Project collection were processed to the item level by Theodore Kerr and Brett Dion in 2016. Series 2 through 4 were previously inventoried and a container list was created.

Historical note bibliography

Highleyman, Liz. "New HIV Cases Decline in US, but Population and Geographic Disparities Persist." Aidsmap (London, England), December 8, 2015.

Kolata, Gina. "AIDS in San Francisco Hit Peak in '92, Officials Say." New York Times (New York, NY), February 16, 1994.

Kolata, Gina. "Targeting Urged in Attack on AIDS." New York Times (New York, NY), March 7, 1993.

Osmond, Dennis H. Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in the United States San Francisco, CA: University of California HIV InSite, 2003.

Tabor, Mary B.W. "Chronicling the Spread of AIDS Throughout Brooklyn." New York Times (New York, NY), May 31, 1992.

Wong, Sumi. "Historical Society at Work On Show About a Very Contemporary Subject: the AIDS Epidemic and Its Impact on Brooklyn Residents." The Phoenix (Brooklyn, NY), September 25, 1992.

Young, Joyce. "Exhibit takes closer look at life with AIDS." New York Daily News (New York, NY), April 18, 1993.

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Container List

Series 1: Oral Histories, 1992-1993 1992

Broman, Melinda, 1992 June 20

Biographical / Historical

Melinda Broman, a White woman, was forty-seven years old when she was interviewed. Her husband Victor Ockey, who was a hemophiliac, died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1989. He was infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during a routine blood transfusion in the early 1980s. At the time of this interview, Broman had lived in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood since the mid-1980s. Broman's involvement with AIDS was extensive, reaching beyond her relationship with her husband. As a member of the National Hemophiliac Association she has lobbied for increased awareness of the specific plight of HIV+ hemophiliacs. Through her work as a psychologist at Downstate Medical Center and as a member of the Brooklyn Psychological Association she has organized AIDS workshops. She was interviewed primarily because of her personal and professional experience with AIDS issues specific to hemophiliacs.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Melinda Broman was able to provide a lot of information about what it was to be a heterosexual woman within a straight relationship dealing with HIV/AIDS. She speaks about the lack of support within the AIDS movement and also the lack of support from the hemophiliac community. While Broman found herself often surrounded by gay men within the AIDS movement, she made friends but was not always getting the support she needed. It was different within the hemophiliac community. She felt that fear of HIV/AIDS made the virus an unwanted topic of discussion. Melinda also speaks about being in a serodiscordant couple, the feelings she had about that, and how it related to her dealing with her own non-HIV-related health issues. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Broman, Melinda
  • Ockey, Victor
  • White, Ryan

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn AIDS Task Force
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • Green-Wood Cemetery (New York, N.Y.)
  • National Hemophilia Foundation

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Services for -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Blood coagulation factors
  • Funeral rites and ceremonies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hemophiliacs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Hemophilia -- United States
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immunological deficiency syndromes
  • Marriage customs and rites -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Coleman, Philip, 1992 June 13

Biographical / Historical

Philip Coleman was fifty-two at the time of the interview in 1992. A gay African-American person with AIDS (PWA), he was born in Harlem, New York, lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years and was living alone in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Coleman was a member of Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and, before he became ill, he used to conduct sensitivity training for volunteers working with gay African-Americans. In 1992, he participated in a HIV positive support group for gay men in Brooklyn. Being gay was Coleman's primary identification. He had been ill for some time and had previously been hospitalized with respiratory and circulation ailments shortly before this interview.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Phil Coleman provides a clear sense of the impact that AIDS has had on the Black gay community and on his life. He speaks candidly about what love, sex and relationships have come to mean to him as a PWA. Based on the experiences he had in his support group, he was able to make a few general observations about gay PWAs living in Brooklyn. Coleman shares throughout the interview his thoughts and feelings rooted in the intersectional experience of being Black, gay and living with HIV. He applies his analysis to what was needed in terms of activism, and services, and how racism and homophobia play out in church, in community and elsewhere. Throughout the interview Coleman connects the work he does around his being a gay Black man living with HIV to issues such as ageism, the house music and ballroom dance scenes, and even overlapping activism as it related to Haiti. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Coleman, Philip

Subject Organizations

  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • Kings County Hospital (Kings County, N.Y.)
  • Methodist Episcopal Hospital (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • United States. Department of State

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gay culture -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gays -- Social life and customs
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Paratransit services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Rotter, Beverly and family of Iris De La Cruz, 1992 April 03
De La Cruz family

Biographical / Historical

Iris De La Cruz is the daughter of narrator Beverly Rotter, mother to Melissa De La Cruz and sister to Randy Rotter. Beverly was one of the founders of Iris House, a care facility for women living with HIV, where she was also on the board of directors. She also founded Mothers March Against AIDS. At the time of this 1992 interview, Melissa was working with Lifeforce, doing safer sex education. Randy, during this period, was self-employed. Beverly Rotter died in October, 2015.

Scope and Contents

In the interview as a family, Beverly Rotter, Melissa De La Cruz and Randy Rotter discuss Iris De La Cruz (1954 - 1991) and the powerful mark she made on the world as an AIDS activist, sex worker activist, and writer. They talk about her life and work before HIV and after. Each one remarks in their own way about Iris' humor, kindness and fierceness as an activist. Melissa talks about what it was to have Iris as her mother. Randy discusses what it was to bond with Iris through humor, and also his anger around her HIV infection. Beverly speaks frankly about being a caregiver and the work that it takes to advocate for someone. Each also speaks about their own understanding of HIV/AIDS before Iris seroconverted (when HIV antibodies are detected) and after. Continuing to do the work of railing against stigma and discrimination, at one point Beverly asserts that the interviewer's line of questioning is inappropriate and lets him know she will not continue in that direction. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Cuomo, Mario Matthew
  • Rotter, Beverly

Subject Organizations

  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • People with AIDS Coalition of New York

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Prostitution -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Safe sex in AIDS prevention -- New York (State)
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social group work -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women -- Social conditions -- Poetry
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Fernandes, Carney and Kristy, 1993 January 11

Biographical / Historical

At the time of the 1993 interview, Kristy Fernandes was a seven year old girl who had been diagnosed with AIDS two years prior. Carney Fernandes, her father, was at this time age fifty-five. An immigrant from Guyana, he had tested negative for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and had been caring for his daughter on his own since her mother's death in the late 1980s. An articulate girl and keenly aware of her situation, Kristy was able to keep up with her school work and had only minor limitations on her daily life. Her father was very knowledgeable about developments regarding AIDS at the time of the interview and was very active in her care. Upon learning of his daughter's HIV status he went back to school to become a nurse. They lived together in an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview the narrators discuss Kristy Fernandes' HIV positive status and Carney Fernandes' role as primary caregiver. Kristy talks about her friends, the care she has received, what she wants to be when she grows up, and disclosure at school. Carney talks about Kristy's mother, his previous relationships, and how he has dealt with Kristy's health. Based on his experiences he has a clear idea of what work has to be done to better respond to HIV/AIDS. Carney is outspoken about AIDS issues and the community. He provides insight as a straight man of color not living with HIV who is profoundly impacted by the virus. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Fernandes, Carney
  • Fernandes, Kristy

Subject Organizations

  • Housing Works, Inc.
  • Kings County Hospital (Kings County, N.Y.)
  • Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Hargrove, Jason, 1992 February 4

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Henry, Christopher, 1992 October 2

Biographical / Historical

A gay African-American, Christopher Henry found that he was HIV positive four years before this interview. That discovery was weeks before his gay cousin died from AIDS. He moved from his family home in the Bronx into his cousin's house in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1991. Apart from attending support groups at Woodhull Hospital, Henry was not then involved with AIDS-related organizations or activities. Henry did not consider himself an activist per se, as he did not carry banners. Instead, Henry saw himself more as a public intellectual in the making, akin to a celebrity or "public official." He was close to family, had a sense of community, and was raised with a Christian foundation.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Christopher Henry speaks of AIDS in the interview from the position of a young urban gay man of color; conscious of the role race and ethnicity play in understanding the issues raised by the AIDS crisis. When addressing his personal experience with the virus, whether he is describing his mother's reaction to his status or presenting anecdotes from his interactions with his gay friends, he is particularly forceful and articulate. Henry provides insights into the views of people impacted by HIV in Brooklyn related to the systemic issues of HIV/AIDS. He speaks about HIV being created by the government as well as how the government's inaction impacts care. He talks about the ignorance he sees within his own Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. He also shares a point of view about the virus that brings together spirituality, gay rights, and race awareness. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Ashe, Arthur
  • Henry, Christopher
  • Hudson, Rock
  • King, Rodney
  • Sharpton, Al

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • Body Positive of New York
  • Montefiore Medical Center
  • Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AZT (Drug)
  • Fashion designers -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hepatitus B
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

John, Marilyn, 1992 June 23

Biographical / Historical

Marilyn John, a Trinidadian woman, was thirty-four year old at the time of the interview in 1992. A graduate of Long Island University, she was once program coordinator for one of the AIDS programs at the Caribbean Women's Health Association (CWHA) in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. She also had a private AIDS consulting business and represented Caribbean AIDS concerns at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. John developed insight into the impact AIDS had on the Brooklyn Caribbean communities as well as the experience of AIDS service providers. In the years following this interview, John became executive director of the CWHA and a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene employee. In 2010, John pled guilty in federal court to embezzlement and fraud charges. In 2016, she was the National Ambassadors Coordinator for the faith-based White House Prayer for Our Nation initiative.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Marilyn John speaks extensively on the changes she has witnessed within the Caribbean communities, particularly with regards to sexuality, because of the AIDS crisis. John brings to the conversation her experience from within the Caribbean community, as well as a background and interest in community health. Throughout the course of the interview, John talks about the need for a holistic approach to health (Holistic Methods of Intervention), specifically with a focus on culture and immigration. She also speaks specifically on the need for Caribbean specific cultural training related to HIV. Since her primary interest and expertise is in education, she concentrates on the different approaches she takes to the different needs and characteristics of many of the communities she works with. Finally, she outlines what should be done for Brooklyn's Caribbean communities. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • John, Marilyn

Subject Organizations

  • Caribbean Women's Health Association
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • American Dream -- History -y 20th century
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Community activists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Epidemics -- United States -x History -y 20th century
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • United States -- Social policy -- History -y 20th century
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)

Morciglio, Adolph, 1992 June 1

Biographical / Historical

Adolph Morciglio was a person with AIDS (PWA) and a former intravenous drug user (IVDU). Part Puerto Rican, he grew up on Columbia Street in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn and used to live in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood at the St. George Hotel in a special program for homeless PWAs. Prior to the interview, he'd had no major opportunistic infections though he had a dangerously low Tcell count. He was formerly working as a paralegal and had served time in prison.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Adolph Morciglio speaks about his long relationship with drugs; both as a person who used drugs for thirty years and as someone who no longer uses drugs, as well the role that drugs played in his time at Rikers Island. He speaks about his early childhood and the impact he feels it had on his life chances, his early awareness of HIV, the impact HIV has had on his life and his family, as well as the Red Hook community he is from. Towards the end of the interview, he speaks about the need for greater action by the government and churches. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Morciglio, Adolph

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn­Cumberland Medical Center
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • Hotel St. George (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Social Services

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Legal status, laws, etc. -- New York (State)
  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Services for -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AZT (Drug)
  • Drug addiction -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Methadone maintenance -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Politics and culture -- United States
  • Prisons -- New York (State)
  • Social justice -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Red Hook (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Morrissey, Karen and Ripp, Robert, 1992 July 29

Biographical / Historical

Robert (Rob) Ripp is a gay man whose friend and lover Michael died of complications related to HIV/AIDS at the age of twenty-six years old on March 30, 1992. At the time of the interview, Ripp lived in the Park Slope / Carroll Gardens area of Brooklyn and was thirty years old. He grew up on Long Island, and moved to New York when he was twenty-three. In the interview he comes across as both spiritual and political. Ripp was a member of ACT UP. Karen Morrissey is a heterosexual woman, whose brother Michael died of complications related to HIV/AIDS. Morissey is a mother, daughter, sister and teacher in relation to HIV/AIDS.

Scope and Contents

This interview focuses on the life, death and relationships of artist and dancer Michael through the point of view of his sister Karen Morrissey and his lover Robert (Rob) Ripp. Together they discuss serodiscordant couples, spirituality in the face of death, the lack of governmental response to HIV/AIDS, witnessing and supporting someone navigating healthcare, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on family, friends and community. Ripp speaks specifically about his understanding of HIV/AIDS as a gay man. Both reflect on being near Michael when he died. Morissey recalls how she came to learn more about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS through her brother and how she was awed by her brother's spirit in the face of adversity. At times, Ripp's and Morrissey's experiences dovetail with one another. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Morrissey, Karen
  • Ripp, Robert

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Social Services
  • New York (State). AIDS Institute

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Gays -- Social life and customs
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)

Mulcahy, Donna, 1992 June 27

Biographical / Historical

Donna Mulcahy, a White heterosexual woman, was thirty-one years old in 1992. Her partner Arthur died six months before the interview of AIDS-related causes. While she was born in the South, Mulcahy grew up in Long Island and moved to Brooklyn as an adult, where she met Arthur at a bar on Carroll Street. At the time of the interview, she was a lawyer. Previous to the death of her husband, whose life was impacted by his injection use of heroin, she had been active in the response to AIDS. After his death, Mulcahy was taking time to take care of herself.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Donna Mulcahy discusses her experience as a partnered straight woman not living with HIV in Brooklyn in the early 1990s, married to a man who lived with HIV and an addiction to heroin. The narrator speaks at length throughout the interview about how her partner's addiction was harder to deal with than his status as an HIV positive person with AIDS. She speaks of a supportive family, a fulfilling work life and a community of people living with and impacted by HIV and addiction. For this narrator, the AIDS crisis was at first something she ignored, then something that was about people who used drugs and were dying, and eventually about other communities such as gay men and other partners of people living with HIV. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Mulcahy, Donna

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Drug addiction -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Carroll Gardens (New York, N.Y.)
  • Park Slope (New York, N.Y.)

N., A., 1992 May 4

Biographical / Historical

A woman living with HIV/AIDS, A.N. was forty-three years old at the time of the interview in 1992. Originally from Grenada, she moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was ten months old. After a break up with her partner of seventeen years, she moved to California where, within a few years, she found out she was living with what she called "full blown AIDS." The interview took place in the house she grew up in, where she lives with her family who help care for her.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, A.N. discusses the life of a single Black woman living with HIV/AIDS in Brooklyn. The narrator speaks clearly throughout about her health challenges, weaving together her time in California and her time in Brooklyn. She speaks specifically about the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights in relation to people's ideas of who has HIV, and who doesn't. She also speaks at some length about sexuality, race, and HIV. Towards the end of the recording, an unidentified second interviewer comes in. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AZT (Drug)
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • California
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Norris, Barbara, 1992 August 19

Biographical / Historical

Barbara Norris was a nurse working at Woodhull Hospital in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she worked at the AIDS clinic. Born in Harlem, New York, she moved to Brooklyn when she was married, had three sons, and two grandchildren. At the time of the interview in 1992, she was a woman of Christian faith whose experience with people living with HIV at the hospital helped shape her view on homosexuals, people who use drugs, and other members of the community.

Scope and Contents

In the interview Barbara Norris speaks about her experience as a nurse from the 1970s to the early 1990s in Brooklyn, whose work has been deeply impacted by HIV. She speaks at length about the virus' impact on the people of Brooklyn, who she saw coming into the hospital. At times she briefly mentions differences within the epidemic in Brooklyn compared to Manhattan. Due to the narrator's long standing perspective as a nurse with various high positions, she is able to share ideas on the role of the hospital within the epidemic and what ought to be happening. Norris also shares insights into the emotional toll the epidemic has on nurses. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Norris, Barbara

Subject Organizations

  • Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -- Information services
  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Services for -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AZT (Drug)
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nurses -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Palazzo, Maria, 1992 July 30

Biographical / Historical

Maria Palazzo is a White Italian woman from the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn who, at the time of this interview, was a volunteer at Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). She began volunteering for the AIDS Walk and other fundraisers; jobs in line with her paid work as an accountant in Manhattan, and eventually became part of the GMHC Buddy Program. Palazzo went on to do more outreach-based work.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Maria Palazzo provides a view of what it was to be a volunteer with a large AIDS organization in a major city in the United States in the 1990s. She speaks about the her motivations for volunteering, her interactions with fellow volunteers, and the reactions she gets from the general public, her workmates, friends, and family related to her volunteering. The narrator also considers differences in attitudes and available resources between Manhattan and the Bronx. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Palazzo, Maria

Subject Organizations

  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc

Subject Topics

  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Voluntarism -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- Information services
  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Services for -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Pearson, Mildred, 1992 July 11

Biographical / Historical

Sixty-one years old at the time of the interview in 1992, Mildred Pearson was an African-American woman from the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. She was born and raised in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood. At Cooper Park public housing, she and her second husband Rutledge raised fourteen children born out of three marriages. Her experience as a mother of a gay son who died of AIDS prompted her to join the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force (BATF), using the story of the loss to communicate information about AIDS. Realizing that more than education was needed to meet the emotional stress experienced by persons with AIDS (PWAs) and their families, Pearson left BATF to establish a support group for mothers of PWAs. Mother's Love had weekly meetings for its members/mothers who engaged in extensive outreach work in Brooklyn and the other boroughs. Mildred Pearson died in April, 1994.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Mildred Pearson discusses the personal knowledge that came out of being a mother of a person with AIDS (PWA) and working as a care provider. Pearson chronicles the experience of discovering that her son Bruce Williams was sick, the efforts in his treatment, and the home care that had a demonstrative effect on his health. In the wake of Williams' death, she recalls getting help from a volunteer who had befriended Williams. She discusses reaching out to tell her story in support of the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force. In search of a support group for mothers that felt more inclusive and diverse, she tells of forming the Mother's Love group. Pearson describes her development into an activist without a hard-edged militant stance. She touches on many bases that reflected society's responses to the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pearson speaks concretely about health care, social services, and the emotions generated by illness and loss. Pearson also recalls sensing a more tolerant period in her Brooklyn youth. Before ending on a note about the strength she receives from her faith, she takes a view on society's ills of homelessness and addiction and relates those challenges to other human losses that her family has suffered. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Pearson, Mildred
  • Williams, Bruce

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn AIDS Task Force
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS-related complex -x Treatment -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Funeral rites and ceremonies -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social group work -- New York (State)

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Boerum Hill (New York, N.Y.)

Post, Kenny and Wagner, Cheryl, 1992 September 25

Biographical / Historical

Cheryl Wagner and Kenny Post, both White and Brooklynites by birth, had married four years before this 1992 interview. They met at a Narcotics Anonymous social shortly after they had begun rehabilitation programs for IV drug users. At the time of their meeting, Post already knew he was HIV positive. Wagner was tested a year or two later and discovered that she too was positive. They had both experienced AIDS related illnesses. Post worked as a cab driver, identified as an activist and attended AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) meetings. Wagner had participated in a variety of AIDS support/activist groups. They were both using Gay Men's Health Crisis resources. Her fifteen year old son was living with the couple in a home in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn in 1992. Before their marriage and AIDS, both Wagner's and Post's lives revolved around drug use.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Kenny Post and Cheryl Wagner share strong opinions about the particular issues that HIV raises for addicts and are critical of many of the programs established for this population. In addition, Wagner is concerned about AIDS as a woman's issue and presents numerous examples, many of them personal, of the ignorance and discrimination faced by women with AIDS. They both are incisively critical of the healthcare and welfare system in New York City and the inadequate and unequal distribution of resources across the boroughs. Finally, they are people with AIDS who are involved in an intimate and caring relationship and their discussion of this aspect of their lives provides a particular perspective on the emotional impact of the AIDS crisis in the twentieth century. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Post, Kenny
  • Wagner, Cheryl

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • New York (N.Y.). Department of Social Services

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Drug addiction -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women's health services -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sheepshead Bay (New York, N.Y.)
  • Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.)

Rivera, Dolores, 1992 September 11

Biographical / Historical

Dolores Rivera, a fifty-one year old Irish and African-American woman, was diagnosed with AIDS after a bout of pneumocystis pneumonia in 1986. Rivera was raised in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. Except for a brief stint in Staten Island, she lived in Brooklyn. With all of children grown into young adults, at thirty-six she began abusing drugs, became an addict, and went through years as a homeless IV drug user. She believed she was infected with HIV through IV drug use, although she knew that her last sexual encounter was with a man who had the virus. After her HIV positive diagnosis; she went into rehab, got off the streets and began outreach work within the Brooklyn IV drug-using community. When this interview took place in 1992, she had an apartment in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn. Rivera was babysitting one granddaughter daily, including while this interview was recorded. By 2004, the year she died, she had served on the Board of Directors at Iris House.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Dolores Rivera tells her story of childhood in an abusive home and how that profoundly affected her adulthood. Besides her vivid descriptions of her years as a homeless IV drug user, she reflects on how she felt and thought about herself. She discusses how her life changed remarkably after her diagnosis. Rivera shares her awareness of AIDS issues and gives her impression of the different impacts that AIDS has had on various Brooklyn communities. She also has some ideas about what should be done to better manage the crisis. The interview is occasionally interrupted by Rivera's childcare. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Rivera, Dolores

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Drug addiction -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Homeless women -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bensonhurst (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Rosa, Luis Nieves, 1992 July 11

Biographical / Historical

An HIV positive and healthy Puerto Rican gay man, Dr. Luis Nieves Rosa was thirty-three years old in 1992. Raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, he moved to San Juan in 1977. Being openly gay since age eighteen, he was convinced later that he had contracted the virus through sex in 1985 or earlier. He moved to Brooklyn in 1988 and lived in the Fort Greene neighborhood when the interview took place. From 1988-1990, he was a caseworker for people with AIDS (PWAs) at Woodhull Hospital in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was during this period that his roommate and good friend got sick and died of AIDS, and Nieves Rosa was a major care-partner for him. Later, he was working at the Hispanic AIDS Forum, and was active with Latino Gay Men of New York on gay and AIDS issues. He had completed a doctoral program in social work at the University of Puerto Rico, where he also teaches, and in 2012 he published on the subject of homophobia in universities. As of 2014, he was serving as Director of the Center for Applied Social Research in Puerto Rico.

Scope and Contents

Luis Nieves Rosa is interviewed about his young adult life as a gay man in Puerto Rico and the four years, prior to this 1992 interview, spent in Brooklyn. He speaks generally about the issues of Latino and gay Latino people with AIDS from his work with the Hispanic AIDS Forum. He weaves together four strands of his story: A gay Latino man who is HIV positive (he participated in an experimental drug study), a care-partner for a friend who died of AIDS, and a service provider and activist on AIDS issues. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Rosa, Luis Nieves

Subject Organizations

  • Hispanic AIDS Forum
  • Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Hospitals -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social workers -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Bushwick (New York, N.Y.)
  • Puerto Rico

Sandoval, William with Rodriguez, Rita, 1992 June 11

Biographical / Historical

When interviewed in 1992, Willie Sandoval was a forty-one year old Latino person with AIDS who became infected with the HIV virus through IV drug use. He was one of nine siblings (six sons and three daughters) who witnessed and was subjected to his father's frequent episodes of domestic violence and alcoholism. A resident of the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn as an adult, he was diagnosed in 1988 after being hospitalized for a series of illnesses and psychiatric episodes associated with AIDS. Sandoval then lived at his sister's home in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn, but by 1992, he was often staying in the Lutheran Medical Center's AIDS ward. Sandoval worked with a number of organizations (ACT UP, Gay Men's Health Crisis, church and education groups) in which he was very active. This community and activist work had to be curtailed because of his health. Brooklyn, as a place to live and as a way of life, was very important to Sandoval. He died on September 26, 1992 of complications due to AIDS. His sister, Rita Rodriguez, was forty-three at the time of the interview, and moved out of Brooklyn in 1993.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Willie Sandoval speaks of the spread of the epidemic through particular Brooklyn neighborhoods--mainly Sunset Park--with an insider's knowledge. His extensive experience in AIDS organizations make it possible for him to draw comparisons between Brooklyn and other parts of the city; ergo he makes some observations about the differences in attitude between Brooklyn and Manhattan physicians dealing with people with AIDS. Sandoval and Rita Rodriguez recall their difficult upbringing, Sandoval's descent into habitual drug abuse, the trauma he caused to family, and how family has responded to his illness. They discuss how treatment can be improved and how awareness can address the stigma associated with the virus. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Sandoval, William
  • Rodriguez, Rita

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • Lutheran Hospital (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Drug addiction -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • South Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Sunset Park (New York, N.Y.)

Sepkowitz, Douglas, 1992 October 23

Biographical / Historical

Born in Oklahoma, Dr. Douglas Sepkowtiz is an infectious disease specialist who, after studying internal medicine at medical school, witnessed the AIDS crisis firsthand while working in Brooklyn's emergency rooms and Maimonides Medical Center in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. HIV impacted his work and his personal life; having a colleague who was living with HIV and losing a close family member as a result of HIV/AIDS. The narrator has published widely in medical journals and in 2016, is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at SUNY -Downstate College of Medicine.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Dr. Sepkowitz discusses his experience as a doctor in Brooklyn during the AIDS crisis. Throughout, the narrator brings up issues of ethics and humanity as a medical service provider; focusing on medical professionals gossiping about modes of transmission of their patients, and patients' agency in making decisions around care. He also discusses what changed as the epidemic evolved; including the populations of the patients he saw and structural changes within the world of medicine. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Sepkowitz, Douglas

Subject Organizations

  • ACT UP New York (Organization)
  • Maimonides Hospital of Brooklyn

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Medicaid
  • Physicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Terson, Alice, 1992 September 26

Biographical / Historical

Alice Terson was an HIV positive Latina lesbian born in 1952. At the time of the interview in 1992, she was a mother of one son and had a female partner. She was in recovery and had been formerly incarcerated. She worked at an AIDS service organization in Manhattan while living in Brooklyn, where she had friends and a sense of community. Alice Terson died in 2009.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Alice Terson shares her personal experience living with HIV and providing care and services for others living with HIV. Early in the interview, she speaks about her adulthood and how she had to overcome the negative stereotypes associated with the various aspects of who she was: lesbian, female, Latina, former drug user, formerly incarcerated, Spanish speaker. Self-identifying first as advocate, then as activist, the narrator speaks with passion about the holes in the system as she sees them, including but not limited to; the ways doctors need to build trust with patients, how prisons need to have HIV awareness and prevention programs, and the need for more Brooklyn-based services for folks living with HIV. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Terson, Alice

Subject Organizations

  • Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc
  • Riker's Island (N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • AZT (Drug)
  • Gay culture -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immunological deficiency syndromes
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Puerto Ricans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Weinstein, Ivan Keith, 1992 April 4

Biographical / Historical

Ivan Keith Weinstein was a partnered, thirty-year-old, gay man living with HIV in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn at the time of this 1992 interview. Before he entered into what he called "forced retirement," due to his health, Weinstein was in the security industry. Afterwards, he worked a lot within the community, specifically as a stage manager for the AIDS Theater Project. Ivan Keith Weinstein died circa 1992.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Ivan Keith Weinstein discusses his experience as a partnered gay man living with HIV in Brooklyn in the early 1990s. He covers the difference for him in what it means to be living with HIV vs. getting an AIDS diagnosis; the choices he had to make about dis-closure with his friends and family on account of his partner's comfort level; the lack of good services for people living with HIV in Brooklyn; and the impact that living with HIV has had on his personal relationships, his work, sex life, and engagement with the medical profession. Towards the end of the interview, a different interviewer comes in and prompts the narrator to discuss the first person he knew with HIV in Brooklyn and the differences in stigma and care in Manhattan versus Brooklyn. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Weinstein, Ivan Keith

Subject Organizations

  • AIDS Theatre Project

Subject Topics

  • AIDS (Disease) -- Information services
  • AIDS (Disease) -x Patients -x Services for -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Family life -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • HIV-positive persons -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Sexual health -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Social group work -- New York (State)
  • Stigma (Social psychology) -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)

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Series 2: Oral History Transcripts

Scope and Contents

This series includes transcripts of interviews with Barbara Norris, Mildred Pearson, Kenny Post and Cheryl Wagner, Dolores Rivera, Luis E. Nieves Rosa, and William Sanoval with Rita Rodriguez, and are arranged arbitrarily. Transcripts, as well as interview abstracts in the "Summaries" folder, are located in box 1. Contents of box 1 were inventoried and remain unprocessed.

Series 3: Research Materials

Scope and Contents

Made from what was gathered and generated through the oral history project and exhibition, the materials relate directly to the AIDS epidemic in Brooklyn, as well as to AIDS/HIV in the New York metropolitan area. This series includes magazines, books, pamphlets, articles, biographies, a radio program and resource lists. Subjects concern AIDS information in Spanish, AIDS resources, support services, food services, educational material, legal information, discrimination, hemophilia, and children and teens. The research materials are largely unprocessed, separated by subject matter or format, arranged arbitrarily, and located in three boxes and one binder.

Interview on WEBE Radio, 1988

Biographical / Historical

A gay man, Drew was thirty-two years old at the time of the interview in 1988 and had been living with HIV for almost two years. He was not on medication and identified himself as asymptomatic. His partner of seven years, Donald, died on their anniversary. Minna, a straight, HIV-negative woman, was married to Victor, a hemophiliac who had recently died of AIDS-related causes. (Within the AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project, Minna is known as Melinda Broman.)

Scope and Contents

This radio program (WEBE 108 Radio) begins with interviews--first with Drew, then Minna--about the loss of partners due to HIV/AIDS, and concludes with information on the most up to date medical advancements and applications, circa 1988. In their interviews, Drew and Minna discuss the death of their partners, their own physical health, any family and community support they had and have, and their thoughts and feelings about the epidemic. The host of the program is Pamela Easton.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Broman, Melinda

Subject Topics

  • AIDS activists -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gay culture -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Gays -- Social life and customs
  • Hemophiliacs -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • HIV infections -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Immunological deficiency syndromes
  • Marriage customs and rites -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Self-help groups -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

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Series 4: Magnetic Tapes

Scope and Contents

Consists of oral history interview recordings on original videotape and audiotape recordings and duplicate audiotape recordings. The oral history tapes are labeled with narrator names and interview dates, and arranged by duplicates and originals in two boxes in an arbitrary order. Unprocessed.

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