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HS9: HIV/AIDS Activism and Public Health


We focus on research and community engagement on histories of HIV/AIDS.

Open to New People

Inactive since: 2022

  • University of Rochester
  • Cornell University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Collaborative Goals

We aimed to plan a public conference on histories of HIV/AIDS activism to coincide with the Memorial Art Gallery's first major exhibition of HIV/AIDS education posters from the Edward C. Atwater Collection at the University of Rochester. The collection includes more than 8,000 posters from more than 130 countries, and we felt the "Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster," exhibition would complement and enrich a series of panel discussions on the history of HIV/AIDS activism.

The conference was held in person at MAG on March 18, 2022, and included leading scholars of HIV/AIDS history, medical practitioners and HIV/AIDS health care providers, graphic designers, historians, archivists, and public health activists. The conference was free and open to the public, and attendees also received free entrance to Memorial Art Gallery and the exhibition. Graduate students from Cornell University and the University of Rochester attended the conference, as well as undergraduate students from RIT, and members of the greater Rochester community.

ASL interpretation was available for all the keynotes and panels.

Group Organizers

Jessica Lacher-Feldman

Exhibits and Special Projects Manager for Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, University of Rochester

Mical Raz

Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professor in Public Health and Policy Professor of Clinical Medicine in the School of Medicine and Dentistry; Professor of History, University of Rochester

Stephen Vider

Assistant Professor of History, Cornell University

Tamar Carroll

Associate Professor, History, Rochester Institute of Technology

Group Members

  • Natalie LeBlanc, Assistant Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Rochester
  • Brenda Marston, Curator of the Human Sexuality Collection, Cornell University Library, Cornell University
  • Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr., Director, Frederick Douglass Institute of African and African American Studies, and Frederick Douglass Associate Professor of African American Literature and Culture, Department of English, University of Rochester
  • Diane Morse, Associate Professor, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Laura Stamm, Director of DEI, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester

Group Outcomes

As a result of this collaboration:

  • Tamar Carroll was able to mount a satellite exhibition of HIV/AIDS education posters from the Atwater Collection at RIT's University Gallery, and RIT undergraduate Museum Studies students installed and de-installed the exhibition of 38 posters;
  • Conference keynote Jennifer Brier of the University of Illinois Chicago came to RIT on March 17 and spoke in University Gallery with undergraduate students in Carroll's oral history class about her project on women living with HIV;
  • The satellite exhibition subsequently traveled to Batavia Art Center, where it was exhibited during Pride Month;
  • Tamar Carroll and Jessica Lacher-Feldman plan to collaborate on a peer-reviewed journal article about the Atwater collection and what we can learn from the posters;
  • Jessica Lacher-Feldman also invited Carroll to bring RIT students in future courses to visit the Collection on-site at UR Library, and her colleagues at RIT invited her to participate in planning for new medical humanities curriculum that could serve students in the RIT physician assistant program, as well as pre-medical majors and other health science students;
  • Stephen Vider and Tamar Carroll both contributed to the companion book, Up Against the Wall, published by RIT Press and co-edited by Jessica Latcher Feldman, which won the Gold Prize for Popular Culture (Adult Nonfiction) from the Foreword's Review INDIES Book of the Year Awards;
  • Designer, artist, and activist Avram Finkelstein gave a public lecture at the University of Rochester library in the evening of March 17, which was attended by faculty and students from UR and RIT, before taking part in the conference on March 18;
  • Several conference participants stayed in Rochester and attended an annual LGBTQ public history event hosted by the Rochester Public Library, The Rainbow Dialogues, which took place at Memorial Art Gallery on Saturday, March 19, and which approximately 100 people attended.