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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note


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Collection Overview
Name of Creator: AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP / Boston).
Title: ACT UP / Boston (Raymond Schmidt and Stephen Skuce) collection
Date: 1987-2007 (bulk 1988-1995)
Reference Code: M149
Location Code: 57/1, FF4/D1-2, RS11/51
Extent: 12.35 cubic ft. (11 boxes, 2 flat file drawers, 1 rolled tube)
Scope and Content Abstract: The material, dating from 1987-2007, documents the organization's founding; the work of the Treatment Issues Committee, particularly its efforts to improve the treatment and prevention of HIV-related opportunistic infections; the planning of demonstrations and campaigns targeting pharmaceutical and insurance companies, hospitals and medical schools, and the Catholic Church; collaborations with other AIDS groups; and clinical trial reviews and protocols. Subjects such as women and AIDS, AIDS prevention, clinical trials, insurance coverage reform, and community activism are documented, in addition to issues pertaining to accelerated approval of experimental drugs, compassionate-use protocols for drugs in development, needle exchange programs, and demonstrations. The records comprise meeting minutes, notes, correspondence, ACT UP / Boston publications, newspaper clippings, flyers, clinical trial reviews and protocols, and articles from medical and scientific journals. The collection also contains fact sheets, statistics, newsletters from other AIDS organizations, photographs, banners, buttons, posters, and T-shirts.
Historical Abstract: The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP / Boston) was founded in 1987 by activists Raymond Schmidt, Stephen Skuce, Donald Smith, and Paul Wychules to focus local efforts to speed up the development of AIDS treatments, educational programs, and prevention strategies. The membership was a diverse, nonpartisan group of people united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis in Boston and throughout the country. The organization was most active from 1988 – 1994 during which time it held demonstrations, die-ins, sleep-ins, and vigils to increase public awareness of the AIDS epidemic. Through its efforts, Astra, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer was persuaded to allow expanded access to its experimental drug outside the clinical trial setting, and the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company changed its policy to cover the cost of off-label use of a medication for people with AIDS. Moreover, ACT UP / Boston was responsible for making the City of Boston one of the first cities in the country to institute a needle exchange program for IV drug users.
Language and Scripts: The material is mainly in English with the exception of some documents in Spanish.
System of Arrangement: Arranged in five series: 1. Administration; 2. Campaigns and Demonstrations; 3. Clinical Trial Protocols; 4. Collaborations; and 5. Audio-visual material and Memorabilia.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Schmidt, Raymond
  • Skuce, Stephen

  • ACT UP / Boston

  • AIDS (Disease) -- Massachusetts -- Boston Metro Area
  • Clinical trials -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States
  • Drug approval -- United States
  • AIDS (Disease) in women -- Massachusetts
  • AIDS activists -- Massachusetts
  • Health care reform -- Massachusetts
  • Safe sex in AIDS prevention -- Massachusetts
  • Intravenous Drug Users -- Massachusetts -- Boston Metro Area
  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Infection
  • People Living With HIV (PLWH) -- Massachusetts -- Boston Metro Area

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is unrestricted.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Received from Raymond Schmidt and Stephen Skuce of Cambridge, MA in two installments on 29 November 2007 and 5 February 2008.
Related Archival Materials:

Leno, Harry W. Personal Papers Collection at the Boston Public Library.

Processor: Finding aid prepared by Kimberly Reynolds, February 2008; updated by Hanna Clutterbuck, July 2009. Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by Raymond Schmidt and Stephen Skuce.