Introduction

The New-York Historical Society’s exhibition AIDS in New York: The First Five Years was designed to examine the AIDS epidemic from 1980 to 1985. This exhibition explores how marginalized communities fought tirelessly to have their voices heard as others acted out in fear and prejudice. The exhibition highlights the power of fear and the frustration felt by those affected by AIDS as well as the steps taken to find treatment and a cure and provide support. AIDS in New York: The First Five Years tells the story of AIDS through artifacts and photographs that capture the immense grief felt by affected communities; news broadcasts desperate to give any information; advertisements for events organized by grassroots groups demanding attention; and much more. The Sights and Sounds section of our website explores some of the key photographs, audio clips, and life stories from the exhibition to explore what the energy and environment in New York City was like at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. For ideas on how to create a classroom discussion around these primary sources, please visit “Sights and Sounds: Guiding Questions” on the Teacher Resources page.

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