AIDS Education Posters Go On Tour

AIDS Education Posters Go On Tour

RCL Collaborates with The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley
March 10, 2015

The Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) is collaborating with The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley on its Shoulders to Stand On Library Initiative.

During the months of March and April, 15 of the department's AIDS Education Posters will be exhibited in libraries throughout the region with Shoulders to Stand On, a documentary capturing the history of Rochester’s LGBT community. The film captures the personal stories of local gay rights pioneers, including a small group of University of Rochester students who formed the Rochester Gay Liberation Front. The exhibition will travel to libraries in Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the LGBT Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Evelyn Bailey, executive producer of Shoulders to Stand On. “The AIDS posters tell the story of AIDS, and the documentary tells the story of the University 's and the community's response to this disease. The University’s AIDS Posters Collection is a valuable resource for the Greater Rochester community. Shoulders To Stand On is grateful for the opportunity to include them in its Library Initiative.”

The AIDS Education Posters Collection includes 6,200 posters representing 124 countries and 68 languages and dialects. They were donated to the River Campus Libraries by Edward C. Atwater, M.D. '50, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

The poster shown here, “Ignorance=Fear. Silence=Death. Fight AIDS. Act Up,” was created in 1989 by artist Keith Haring. 

"Helping to preserve the history of our LGBTQ communities is an important and ongoing activity for the River Campus Libraries' Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation," said Jim Kuhn, assistant dean for special collections and preservation and the Joseph N. Lambert and Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation for River Campus Libraries. "These Shoulders to Stand On screenings are also a welcome opportunity to share our extensive collection of AIDS education posters with the wider community." 

RBSCP is also home to the Gay Alliance’s newspaper, Empty Closet. The publication is one of the oldest continually published LGBT newspapers in the United States, and the oldest LGBT newspaper in New York State. Empty Closet covers local, state, national, and international news, as well as issues pertaining to the LGBT community. It was first published in 1971 by Bob Osborn and Larry Fine, UR students who founded the Rochester Gay Liberation Front. The newspaper was later transferred to the Gay Alliance.

In 2010 – Empty Closet’s 40th continuous year of publication – the University of Rochester digitized the entire collection of issues from January 1971 through April 2010. The collection is available and searchable online.

To learn more about the AIDS Education Posters Collection, click here.

To learn more about Shoulders to Stand On, click here.

To learn more about Empty Closet, click here.


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