AIDS and the Historian: Proceedings of a Conference at the National Institutes of Health 20-21 March 1989.

Edited with Victoria A. Harden. Bethesda: N.I.H. Publications, 1991.

In 1986, leading American historians of medicine publicly acknowledged their responsibility to contribute to a better understanding of a new epidemic disease: AIDS. Since then, several publications and the formation of working groups demonstrated a scholarly commitment to illuminate and explain aspects of this disease through comparative studies of previous mass outbreaks. The AIDS History Group, founded in 1988 and sponsored by the American Association for the History of Medicine, recommended holding a series of programmatic workshops designed to evaluate the current literature on AIDS, discuss ways to apply historical standards to that literature, and suggest further research topics for scholars who wished to contribute to the public debate. Historians must exert leadership and dialogue with representatives of other academic disciplines as well as the various AIDS communities. The latter offer narratives and unique insights into the epidemic.

This collection of essays edited by the Co-Chairs of the AIDS History Group and organizers of the conference constitute important departure points and strategies for the study of AIDS. It also reproduces a number of discussions held among conference participants who attended the four workshops



Speakers and Participants

Workshop 1: Before AIDS. An Overview of Previous US Epidemics to Clarify the Administrative, Scientific, and Social Responses to Mass Disease


Epidemics Before AIDS: A New Research Program
Guenter B. Risse

Popular and Public Health Responses to Tuberculosis in America after 1870
David F. Musto

New York City Epidemics and History for the Public
Bert Hansen

Caroline Hannaway

Summary of Small Group Discussions

Workshop 2: Clinical and Biomedical Research Responses to AIDS


The Biomedical Response to AIDS in Historical Perspective
Victoria A. Harden

Historical Factors in Federal AIDS Prevention Efforts Sonsored by the US Centers of Disease Control
Theodore Hammet and Michael Gross

Basic Research Related to AIDS
Alan N. Schechter

Social and Biological Origins of the AIDS Pandemic
Bernardino Fantini

Jack Pressman

Summary of Small Group Discussions

Evening Session


Images of AIDS: The Poster Record
William H. Helfand

Workshop 3: The Response of Governments and Society to AIDS


The Contemporary Historiography of AIDS
Daniel M. Fox and Elizabeth Fee

The Social History of the Impact of AIDS in the United Kingdom
Virginia Berridge

Community-Based Response to AIDS
Paul Kawata

Suzanne White

Summary of Small group Discussions

Workshop 4:Documenting AIDS History: Preserving the Records of the Scientific, Institutional and Popular Response to a New Disease


Documentation in the Federal Government for the History of AIDS
Peter B. Hirtle

The Artifactual Legacy of AIDS
Ramunas Kondratas

Documenting AIDS: The Role of University and Other Agencies
Nancy W. Zinn
John Parascandola

Summary of General Discussion

Closing Remarks