Oral histories are intimate conversations between and among people who have generously agreed to share these recordings with BHS’s archives and researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. BHS abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.
Every oral history relies on the memories, views, and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.
The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. Where provided, transcripts created prior to 2008 or commissioned by a third party other than BHS, serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. More recent transcripts commissioned by BHS are nearly verbatim copies of the recorded interview, and as such may contain the natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, and repetitions that are common in conversation. The decision for their inclusion was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator’s speech while editing the material for the standards of print.
All citations must be attributed to Brooklyn Historical Society:
[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg
August 19, 1992
Call number: 1993.001.12
0:07 - Her background, introduction to HIV, and life as a nurse in an HIV clinic
12:17 - Role in creating, working at the AIDS Assessment Unit at Woodhull
36:46 - Impact and reactions from friends and family related to her AIDS Assessment Unit work
46:58 - Fear and precautions taken by nurses working in the AIDS clinic
59:33 - HIV's impact on her sex life and attitudes towards communities over-represented by HIV
69:58 - Woodhull's support of clinic staff, ideal care situation for HIV positive people
75:15 - Burn-out, self-care for caregivers; providing community care; role of church in AIDS work
Oral History Interview with Barbara Norris
Barbara Norris was a nurse working at Woodhull Hospital in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she worked at the AIDS clinic. Born in Harlem, New York, she moved to Brooklyn when she was married, had three sons, and two grandchildren. At the time of the interview in 1992, she was a woman of Christian faith whose experience with people living with HIV at the hospital helped shape her view on homosexuals, people who use drugs, and other members of the community.
In this interview Barbara Norris speaks about her experience as a nurse from the 1970s to the early 1990s in Brooklyn, whose work has been deeply impacted by HIV. She speaks at length about the virus' impact on the people of Brooklyn, who she saw coming into the hospital. At times she briefly mentions differences within the epidemic in Brooklyn compared to Manhattan. Due to the narrator's long standing perspective as a nurse with various high positions, she is able to share ideas on the role of the hospital within the epidemic and what ought to be happening. Norris also shares insights into the emotional toll the epidemic has on nurses. Interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg.
The AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection includes oral histories conducted for an exhibition undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society in 1993. The project attempted to document the impact of the AIDS epidemic on Brooklyn communities. Recordings initially made on magnetic tape concerned the epidemic and were with narrators who had firsthand experience with the crisis in their communities, families and personal life. Narrators came from diverse backgrounds within Brookyn and the New York metropolitan area and had unique experiences which connected them with HIV/AIDS. Substantive topics of hemophilia, sexual behavior, substance abuse, medical practice, social work, homelessness, activism, childhood, relationships and parenting run through at least one, and often several, of the oral histories in the collection.
CitationNorris, Barbara, Oral history interview conducted by Robert Rosenberg, August 19, 1992, AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection, 1993.001.12; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Norris, Barbara
- Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
- AIDS (Disease)
- AIDS activists
- AZT (Drug)
- HIV infections
- HIV-positive persons
- Social group work
- Stigma (Social psychology)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- New York (N.Y.)
Finding AidAIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection