Marriott Library Opens New Archives that Cover History of Suicide, HIV/AIDS

The J. Willard Marriott Library welcomes two new archives into its special collections.

The Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder HIV/AIDS Archive and the Ethics of Suicide Archive are the most recent additions. The latter is already available to the public while the former is due to open soon.

The Ethics of Suicide Archive opened online Sept. 1 and is an expanded, digitalized version of the book The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources, written by professor Margaret P. Battin.

Allyson Mower, an associate librarian at the Marriott Library, said Battin’s book is a compilation of works. It presents cultural traditions and viewpoints surrounding suicide throughout history.

“It’s probably one of the only sources that explores the general perceptions of suicide over time,” Mower said.

Senior business admin and political science student Esther Blanco studies in the Marriott library, Monday September 28, 2015.
Senior business admin and political science student Esther Blanco studies in the Marriott library, Monday September 28, 2015.

The archive is the combined efforts of the Marriott Library, Battin and Oxford University Press. Its goal is to provide a more expansive view outside of Battin’s book.

Rick Anderson, associate dean for Collections and Scholarly Communications, said he is excited about the innovative format of this archive because it creates a bridge between resources.

“It combines the strengths of print publishing and digital publishing, without having to sacrifice one for the other,” Anderson said.

The other addition is the HIV/AIDS collection that was conceptualized when Professor Terry Kogan met the archive’s namesakes, Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder, at a social event. Ries and Snyder are regarded as “angels of mercy by the LGBTQ community,” being the first and only doctors to take care of HIV/AIDS patients during the 1980s, Kogan said.

Individuals who had the disease were heavily stigmatized during the decades in which the two doctors did the majority of their work. They carefully documented their research over the years, and Kogan felt they had “an extraordinary history that couldn’t be lost.”

Gregory Thompson, associate dean of Special Collections, said, “In my judgment as a historian, this is a major step in documenting an absolutely underrepresented community.”

U professor Elizabeth Clement is in the process of conducting oral histories with Ries and Snyder. She said she thinks the information will provide an unprecedented look at the history of Utah because “nobody has talked about the history … in a place that is fairly conservative, with a prominent religion.”

The collection will include interviews with the doctors, memorabilia, scrapbooks and documentation of their work over the years.

The J. Willard Marriott Library will host a celebration of the launch of the HIV/AIDS Archive on Wednesday, Sept. 30, in the Gould Auditorium from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

There will also be a celebration and discussion of the Ethics of Suicide Archive and Professor Battin’s book in the Gould Auditorium from noon to 2 p.m. on Oct. 5.

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