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.
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[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 Sember
October 23, 1992
Call number: 1993.001.19
0:03 - Introduction, connection to HIV/AIDS
20:08 - Experiencing epidemic in Brooklyn before it was named, engaging with impacted communities
49:48 - Epidemic as a physician and service provider
61:03 - Community response, identity and stigma
84:15 - People impacted by HIV in his life
88:59 - Considering the good to come out of the epidemic
Oral History Interview with Dr. Douglas Sepkowitz
Born in Oklahoma, Dr. Douglas Sepkowtiz is an infectious disease specialist who, after studying internal medicine at medical school, witnessed the AIDS crisis firsthand while working in Brooklyn's emergency rooms and Maimonides Medical Center in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. HIV impacted his work and his personal life; having a colleague who was living with HIV and losing a close family member as a result of HIV/AIDS. The narrator has published widely in medical journals and in 2016, is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at SUNY -Downstate College of Medicine.
This interview focuses on Dr. Sepkowitz's experience within the AIDS crisis as a doctor in Brooklyn. Throughout, the narrator brings up issues of ethics and humanity as a medical service provider; focusing on medical professionals gossiping about modes of transmission of their patients, and patients' agency in making decisions around care. He also discusses what changed as the epidemic evolved; including the populations of the patients he saw and structural changes within the world of medicine. Interview conducted by Robert Sember.
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.
CitationSepkowitz, Douglas, Oral history interview conducted by Robert Sember, October 23, 1992, AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection, 1993.001.19; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- ACT UP New York (Organization)
- Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Sepkowitz, Douglas
- AIDS (Disease)
- AIDS activists
- Family life
- HIV-positive persons
- Sexual health
- Social group work
- Stigma (Social psychology)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- New York (N.Y.)
Finding AidAIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection