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John Mehring Papers

Identifier: Tretter-453

Scope and Contents

The John Mehring Papers consists of organizational records from the Aliveness Project and Minnesota AIDS Project. It also contains materials from the California Bay Area, such as a description of the Local 250 Healthcare Workers Union and its involvement in AIDS care in the 80's. The collection also contains various periodicals and newspapers clippings related to the AIDS crisis.


  • Creation: 1982 - 2015

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Historical Note

John Mehring was a gay man who worked to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and safety. He grew up in Oklahoma, but also lived in West Germany, Pennsylvania, Seattle, and San Francisco. He lived in San Francisco for the longest period of time, but he spent his last five years in Minnesota. He was HIV positive for nearly half of his life, but he used this experience to educate people about the disease, starting in San Francisco.

Mehring worked for a time as a psychiatric technician at Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco. There, he helped form the AIDS Education Committe in the Local 250 Healthcare Workers Union, the Bay Area chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Starting from early on in the epidemic, this committee made eductional materials and gave workshops for union members on worker safety to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS. Their materials were originally distributed in the Bay Area, but the international union headquarters then requested to distribute them throughout all branches of the organization, and the brochure "AIDS and the Health Care Worker" was mass-distrubited starting in May 1984.

Mehring stayed as a health and safety organizer for SEIU until 2006, when he decided to beomce a teacher. He worked as a reading tutor when he moved to Minneapolis, but he remained active in the LGBT community, and was particularly outspoken on the handling of HIV/AIDS issues by businesses, non-profits, and the Minneapolis Health Department.

He passed away in 2018 due to complications from cancer.


1.25 Cubic Feet (1 Paige Box)

Language of Materials



The John Mehring Papers consists of organizational records from the Aliveness Project and Minnesota AIDS Project, along with periodicals related to AIDS.

Raye O Shiel and Kristen Datta
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Jean Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies Collecting Area