Bill Urban and The Baltimore Alternative collection
Scope and Contents
The Bill Urban and Baltimore Alternative collection houses the personal and organizational records of Bill Urban and the Baltimore Alternative newspaper. This collection, which dates from 1964 to 2000, contains photographs, letters and cards, personal effects, television appearances, and HIV/AIDS related materials including correspondence and notes with the Dallas Buyers Club by Bill Urban. It also contains issues of the Baltimore Alternative and materials documenting its day to day activities along with photographs of LGBTQAI+ culture in Baltimore during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- Creation: 1964-2000
- Urban, Bill, 1955-1992 (Person)
Conditions Governing Use
Towson University Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) is the owner of the original materials and digitized images in our collections; however, the collection may contain materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials. Consult with SCUA to determine if we can provide permission for use.
Bill Urban was born on February 16th, 1955, in Lancaster, Pa. He graduated from Kent High School in Worton in 1973 and attended several colleges and universities, including the University of California at Santa Barbara and, in Baltimore, Loyola College, and Coppin State College.
As a student, Mr. Urban worked as a congressional page for then-Rep. Rogers C. B. Morton, a Maryland Republican, and received an Outstanding Young Men of America award in 1979. He worked as a systems controller for USF&G; from 1978 to 1981, and as a reporter and advertising sales manager for the Baltimore Gaypaper in 1984 and 1985.
Mr. Urban founded the Baltimore Alternative in 1986, committing the newspaper to extensive coverage of the AIDS epidemic, and to the civil and privacy rights of the LGBTQAI+ community. Mr. Urban was particularly interested in educating young people about the dangers of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and was in great demand as a public speaker, appearing before several high school audiences in Maryland.
"He could not stand injustice," said Garey Lambert, a friend who is associate editor of the Alternative and director of AIDS Action Baltimore. "And he was feisty and tenacious in his battles. His specific battle had to do with AIDS and gay rights, but injustice was the thing that was at the core of his anger. He just could not stand it."
Mr. Urban frequently called the hosts of radio talk shows and debated with them, feeling they had maligned the gay community and people with AIDS. He said he knew he never could change their minds, but could not allow their views to go unchallenged.
"He was not afraid of any battle, or any fight or anybody in any fight," Mr. Lambert said. "He went right after them if he thought he had a case."
Until deteriorating health curtailed his activities. Urban was a member of the board of directors of the Chase-Brexton Clinic; the steering committee of the AIDS Interfaith Council of Baltimore; the Baltimore Justice Campaign; the AIDS Partnership Council, and was a founding member of the People with AIDS Coalition in Baltimore.
Bill Urban passed on June 25, 1992 from complications related to AIDS at the age of 37.
(Biographical note taken and adapted from Baltimore Alternative, Volume 7, Number 7, July 1992)
4 Linear Feet (10 boxes)
Language of Materials
Bill Urban founded the Baltimore Alternative newspaper in 1986, committing the paper to extensive coverage of the AIDS epidemic, the Baltimore, Maryland LGBTQAI+ community, and to their civil and privacy rights. Urban was a prominent activist and educator who appeared on multiple news segments and before a multitude of audiences. Urban passed from complications related to AIDS in 1992.
This collection, which dates from 1964 to 2000, contains photographs, letters and cards, personal effects, television appearances, and HIV/AIDS related materials including correspondence and notes with the Dallas Buyers Club by Bill Urban. It also contains issues of the Baltimore Alternative and materials documenting its day to day activities along with photographs of LGBTQAI+ culture in Baltimore during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- Guide to the Bill Urban and The Baltimore Alternative collection
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