Help RCHS Save Lives: The HIV/AIDS Oral History Project

RCHS is collecting oral histories to save lives. We are documenting the appalling gap between identifying HIV/AIDS as a health crisis and the full-scale response required to develop effective treatments, a delay that allowed the deaths of thousands.

This history is critical and will be shared with lawmakers and others to encourage faster, appropriately scaled responses to health crisis today and in the future. This election season we have already witnessed how the history of the response to HIV/AIDS is being presented incorrectly and the treatment gap ignored. This is a clear lesson in the value of history and learning from past mistakes. (see more here)

Working with a group of dedicated oral historians and HIV/AIDS professionals, RCHS’s state-wide Minnesota HIV/AIDS Providers Oral History Project is collecting and sharing the stories of front-line health care providers, community organizers, and others involved in the fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis from its beginning through recent history.  These heroes of healthcare did extraordinary work with limited resources and saved thousands of lives. Thirty-two of thirty-five interviews have been completed with the support of the taxpayers of Minnesota through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, as well as the support of individual donors, RCHS and the Hennepin History Museum.

We need your help to complete our funding drive for analysis and distribution of the results. The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota has generously provided $10,000 already, and has committed another $10,000 in matching funds.  Please give today and help save lives by allowing us to share the real story of how we failed to respond to a global health epidemic. Support our work here!

For more information on the project, see the Facebook page and Youtube channel.


This project will remind decision-makers the cost in human lives that comes with political delays to addressing a health crisis and thereby help close the response gap. Every federal lawmaker and every Minnesota lawmaker will receive a copy of the report we are creating. In addition, it will be available on and in the collections of RCHS, Hennepin History Museum, and the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in perpetuity.


The methodology for conducting this project follows the Community Oral History Toolkit by Nancy MacKay, Mary Kay Quinlan, and Barbara W. Sommer.