Today in the GSU Archives, we practiced working with pieces from the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Collections. Each artifact I observed held some type of significance in regards to attitudes towards AIDS and individuals with aids and illustrated the history and brought faces to the topic of AIDS.
Taking a piece of the archives and asking questions is the first step I used to generate ideas. Once I had some questions on what each piece meant, I used a second piece of the archives to help me find clues to solve the puzzle on attitudes towards AIDS. While I could have easily done an internet search on the history of AIDS, using first-hand accounts and using primary resources to aid in illustrating my research is much more efficient, as it gives context to what can be a broad topic.
Using news articles as helpful in gaging attitude towards AIDS. Without even reading in depth, the observer can see headlines such as “AIDS Outbreak”, “Women, Minority, and Youth at Increased Risk for AIDS”, and any other small words and phrases that paint emotions such as fear, anxiety, and discriminative and dismissive attitudes towards individuals with AIDS.
I then found this sign that was held by this woman. It says “WOMEN DON”T GET AIDS. THEY JUST DIE FROM IT”. I find this statement to be bold and brave. The sign looks beat up, and almost like it is drying out and shriveling up. However, the message on the sign cannot go unnoticed. It challenges attitudes that at the time may have dismissed the urgency of AIDS, and forces the observer to realize people’s lives are on the line.
The importance of metadata in the research process is vital. Using different types of sources, hearing the narratives, and seeing headlines that are all first-hand account from the time I am observing is helpful. Data doesn’t just give substance, it forces the observer to ask their own questions, analyze others positions, and seek a message to extrapolate upon.