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 Sember
September 26, 1992
Call number: 1993.001.20
0:01 - Defining herself and identifying within the AIDS response
23:59 - Life after diagnosis
47:23 - Personal awareness of HIV before diagnosis
59:28 - Accessing services and staying healthy with HIV
76:37 - Drug use, sex and HIV
91:27 - Impact of HIV on minoritized communities in Brooklyn
99:48 - Identity as activist and what is lacking within the response to HIV in Brooklyn
108:33 - Positive outcomes as a result of the epidemic and message for people living with HIV
Oral History Interview with Alice Terson
Alice Terson was an HIV positive Latina lesbian born in 1952. At the time of the interview in 1992, she was a mother of one son and had a female partner. She was in recovery and had been formerly incarcerated. She worked at an AIDS service organization in Manhattan while living in Brooklyn, where she had friends and a sense of community. Alice Terson died in 2009.
In this interview, Alice Terson shares her personal experience living with HIV and providing care and services for others living with HIV. Early in the interview, she speaks about her adulthood and how she had to overcome the negative stereotypes associated with the various aspects of who she was: lesbian, female, Latina, former drug user, formerly incarcerated, Spanish speaker. Self-identifying first as advocate, then as activist, the narrator speaks with passion about the holes in the system as she sees them, including but not limited to; the ways doctors need to build trust with patients, how prisons need to have HIV awareness and prevention programs, and the need for more Brooklyn-based services for folks living with HIV. 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.
CitationTerson, Alice, Oral history interview conducted by Robert Sember, September 26, 1992, AIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection, 1993.001.20; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Gay Men's Health Crisis, Inc.
- Riker's Island (N.Y.)
- Terson, Alice
- AIDS (Disease)
- AIDS activists
- AZT (Drug)
- Gay culture
- HIV infections
- HIV-positive persons
- Immunological deficiency syndromes
- Puerto Ricans
- Self-help groups
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- New York (N.Y.)
Finding AidAIDS/Brooklyn Oral History Project collection