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Begun with an idea in 1985 by San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is a tribute to those lost to the greatest pandemic of our time. Construction of the quilt began with one panel about a year later, and began in earnest in 1987 by a small number of people wanting a way to memorialize lovers, friends and family, those they feared would be forgotten, accidentally and deliberately.

Quickly people in other large U.S. cities affected by the virus began contributing panels, while volunteers and donors provided fabric, sewing machines, equipment, and time to build more.

Over 25 years the quilt has grown to more than 48,000 panels, tributes to more than 94,000 individuals. Each panel is 3 feet by 6 feet, and each panel was lovingly handcrafted to speak personally of the loved ones struck down by AIDS. The total weight of the quilt is more than 54 tons. At 1.3 million square feet, it is so large it is not displayed in its entirety anymore; the last showing of the entire quilt at one time was 1996 on the Washington, D.C. mall.

It continues to grow as deaths from AIDS continue.

A portion of the AIDS Quilt is currently on display on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The current display is there until July 8th. Other portions will be placed on display later in July.

All of the panels have been photographed and indexed, allowing development of the web application described below the fold.

To assist visitors in viewing the Quilt, a mobile web application has been developed by the University of Iowa Digital Studio for Public Humanities in conjunction with the University of Southern California Public Interactives Research Team and The NAMES Project Foundation. Click on the image of a cell phone above to be taken to the application.

Then, click on Explore and you should end up with a view like the following image. Controls are explained farther down on this page.

Explanation of App Controls


Name Search allows you to enter a full name or a last name. The result is a list of names that are clickable. Click on the name of choice to be taken to an image of the quilt containing that name, a map if it exists, and other names on the panel.

Displays shows the current and past exhibition locations.

Share Your Thoughts about the experience of viewing the Quilt. Add comments to Celebrate the lives of individuals on the quilt.

Quilt 2012 links to the comprehensive web site.

The NAMES Project links to the comprehensive web site.

Credits links to the The University of Iowa Digital Studio for Public Humanities, to the University of Southern California Public Interactives Research Team, and to the NAMES Project Foundation.

We hope you have the opportunity to view some of the quilt in person. Those who have had that opportunity have been deeply moved.

Have you seen the AIDS Quilt in the past? Would you use the web application to enhance your viewing? Please share in comments.

This diary is a collaborative effort. jim in IA (Jim) and I both contributed to it and will respond to your comments.

Originally posted to Jim & Melanie in IA on Thu Jul 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM PDT.

Also republished by Remembering LGBT History and J Town.

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