Trading cards may be best known as a popular form of entertainment. But a set of cards in our collections was used to educate those who could not be reached through more traditional methods during the AIDS epidemic.
In 1993, comic book publisher Eclipse Enterprises released a set of 110 AIDS Awareness trading cards. Courtesy of an anonymous donor, the museum's Archives Center acquired a full set of the cards for its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection. The cards feature a variety of HIV-AIDS information and organizations, as well as personalities who died from AIDS, were currently battling the disease, or were involved in AIDS awareness. The cards depict individuals like Queen's Freddie Mercury, fashion designer Halston, lawyer Roy Cohn, and founder of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser. The back of the cards provide more information on the individual, topic, or organization depicted on front.
Based in Forestville, California, Eclipse Enterprises was founded by brothers Jan and Dean Mullaney. Initially focusing on graphic novels and comic books, the company -- under the guidance of Dean's wife Catherine Yronwode -- moved into producing trading cards as well. During the 1980s, Yronwode again nudged Eclipse toward new projects: The company released a line of nonfiction trading cards that eschewed the usual subject matter of sports and instead focused on controversial political subjects such as the savings and loan scandal, Iran Contra, serial killers, the Kennedy assassination -- and the AIDS crisis.