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Friday, June 10, 2011


The National Museum of American History’s Archives Center’s collections document diverse
aspects of the history and culture of the United States.  The oral histories, ephemera, and
popular culture materials housed here provide researchers an opportunity to learn how
individuals and society are affected by—and cope with—the epidemic. 

Trading cards are a popular form of entertainment, but are also used to educate a segment of
the population that may not be reached through more traditional methods. AIDS Awareness
Cards, a set of 110 trading cards designed for young adults, depict persons who died from AIDS or were involved in the fight against AIDS, as well as a variety of HIV- and AIDS-related topics and organizations. The reverse side of the card carries biographical information or information on the topic or organization depicted.

One of those personalities depicted is Ryan White, a young man with hemophilia. Born in
Kokomo, Indiana in 1971, White caught HIV through contaminated blood products. He was
diagnosed with AIDS in 1985.  He became a vocal and visible symbol of AIDS.  Through his
illness he became friends with Elton John and Michael Jackson, among others.  He died of
AIDS in 1990.  The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990 was named for him.
The reverse of his card reads, “He was taunted and ostracized at school and was finally expelled. Neighbors pelted the Whites’ car, and a bullet was fired into their home. Fleeing Kokomo, the family moved to nearby Cicero, where they were welcomed, and Ryan attended school for the rest of his short life.”

He was quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that God doesn’t punish people. I’ve learned that God doesn’t dislike homosexuals, like a lot of Christians think. AIDS isn’t their fault, just like it isn’t my fault God loves homosexuals as much as He loves everyone else.”

This card is part of the current exhibit, "Archiving the History of an Epidemic: HIV and AIDS, 1985-2009," near our entrance on the first floor, west wing, of the National Museum of American History  The Archives Center houses more than 1,300 study collections and is open to researchers daily, by appointment, except Friday.  Please check our website at for more information.

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., Archives Specialist, Archives Center, National Museum of American

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