Scope and arrangement
The Tony Davis ACT UP records augment the ACT UP New York records also housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was founded in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in New York Citys Greenwich Village as an organization devoted to direct action (demonstrations and civil disobedience) to call the attention of government officials, scientists, drug companies, other corporations, and the general public to the severity of the AIDS crisis and its impact on the lives of individuals. Davis' ACT UP collection includes material generated by committees and working groups internal to the ACT UP organization including the Treatment and Data Committee, the Media Committee, and the Congressional working group. ACT UP New York was at its peak of activity during the early 1990s. Much of ACT UP's efforts concerned the fight to find a cure for AIDS. Documentation of demonstrations designed to bring attention to the AIDS health crisis, international AIDS conferences, and efforts to fund AIDS research and to reform the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health is also included.
The Tony Davis ACT UP records are arranged in four series:
Subject files are arranged alphabetically and include materials collected by Tony Davis regarding activities of the ACT UP organization. General documentation of ACT UP is included along with documentation of the group's efforts to find a cure for AIDS by means of community outreach, direct action demonstrations, fundraising, and testimony before the United States government.
The files on the Barbara McClintock Project to Cure AIDS grew out of extensive research performed by working groups that maintained that AIDS was curable. The project's goal was to find a cure for AIDS using any and all approaches that would ensure a well-functioning immune system and a normal life span with a reasonable quality of life. ACT UP presented the project's detailed plan for a research effort to find a cure for AIDS in March 1993.
The AIDS Cure Project evolved out of the previous work of the McClintock project. In May 1994, ACT UP and U. S. Representative Jerry Nadler introduced the AIDS Cure Act, a bill to establish the AIDS Cure Project, H.R. 4730.
The Treatment and Data Committee formed within ACT UP in 1988. Its goal was the dissemination of information about AIDS treatment to the rest of the ACT UP community. The committee met with success from its beginning. It published a weekly digest, conducted teach-ins, petitioned for drug trials and broader research in AIDS treatment, helped alleviate the cost for drugs and disseminated information about treatment within the ACT UP community. Over the course of ACT UP's existence, internal divisions developed regarding the organization's political tactics and relationship to both the AIDS and gay and lesbian movements. Some members of the Treatment and Data Committee left ACT UP to form the Treatment Action Group (TAG) in 1992.
Research files include publications and flyers created by the Treatment and Data Committee and TAG, as well as newsclippings, announcements about drugs, and other activities spearheaded by the AIDS activists working with the treatment groups.
The press clippings are organized chronologically and contain information relevant to and about the ACT UP organization. The series includes press releases, news clippings, faxes, and memos and documents concerning demonstrations, medical advancement in the fight to cure AIDS, the passing of prominent individuals within the AIDS activist community, and the political struggles to raise awareness about AIDS. ACT UP's many committees and working groups generated ephemera such as flyers, handouts, and mailings included in this series.
Among the materials in this series are press kits generated by the ACT UP Media Committee. From 1992, the Media Committee created and disseminated formal press packets containing public information for ACT UP's membership. These press kits contained photocopies of magazines, newspapers, journals and news of special events taking place each week.