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New Acquisition: ACT UP/Boston Historical Records

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Archives and Special Collections Department
archives [at]
(617) 373-2351
Archives and Special Collections

New Acquisition: ACT UP/Boston Historical Records

Northeastern University Libraries is pleased to announce the acquisition of the historical records of ACT UP/Boston, donated by founding members Raymond Schmidt and Stephen Skuce. ACT UP/Boston (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) was a diverse, nonpartisan group of people united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.

Founded in December 1987 by activists Raymond Schmidt, Stephen Skuce, Donald Smith, and Paul Wychules, ACT UP/Boston was formed to focus local efforts to speed up the development of AIDS treatments, educational programs, and prevention strategies. The organization negotiated with government officials, public health policymakers, medical personnel, researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and others to bring about changes to meet the demands of the AIDS crisis. When negotiations failed, they held dramatic demonstrations, sometimes employing civil disobedience, to effect changes to save lives. In January 1988, the group held its first protest at the Boston offices of the Department of Health and Human Services, regarding delays and red tape surrounding approval of AIDS treatment drugs. ACT UP/Boston's agenda included demands for a compassionate and comprehensive national policy on AIDS; a national emergency AIDS project; intensified drug testing, research, and treatment efforts; and a full-scale national educational program within reach of all. The organization held die-ins and sleep-ins, provided freshman orientation for Harvard Medical School students, negotiated successfully with a major pharmaceutical corporation, affected state and national AIDS polices, pressured health care insurers to provide coverage for people with AIDS, influenced the thinking of some of the nation's most influential researchers, served on the Commonwealth committee that created the nation's first online registry of clinical trials for AIDS treatments, distributed information and condoms to the congregation at Cardinal Law's Confirmation Sunday services at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, and made aerosolized pentamidine an accessible treatment in New England. The organization's motto was "Silence = Death."

The material, dating from 1987-1996, documents the organization's founding, the work of the Treatment Issues Committee, fund-raising activities, demonstrations, and treatment related as well as other campaigns. The records include board and committee minutes, correspondence, grant proposals, ACT UP publications, press clippings, flyers, clinical trial reviews, and realia.

This rich collection contributes to the University Archives and Special Collection Department's collecting focus on records of private, non-profit, community-based organizations that are concerned with social justice issues. View a list of special collections available for research in the NU Archives and Special Collections Department.

Archival Collections