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Barbara Fassbinder papers

Identifier: IWA0410

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Scope and Contents

The Barbara Fassbinder papers date from 1958 to 1998 and measure 6 linear inches. The collection is arranged into six series: Biographical and Family, Correspondence, Published material, Political Activities, Conferences, and Photographs and Videocassettes.

The collection contains a few papers and photographs relating to Fassbinder and her family; however, the bulk of the collection consists of letters of support and newpaper and magazine articles concerning Fassbinder, her family, and her political activities. The collection also includes material relating to conferences at which Fassbinder spoke or attended. There are also videocassette recordings of televised interviews and newscasts about her and her support for the rights of AIDS patients in the 1990s.


  • Creation: 1958-1998


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Barbara Herring Fassbinder was born September 29, 1953, the daughter of James and Ethel Herring of Marion, Iowa. She attended Catholic grade school and graduated from Cedar Rapids High School in 1971 and the University of Iowa College of Nursing in 1975. In 1974, she married David Fassbinder and after her graduation, they moved to a farm near Monona, Iowa. There, they raised three children while David Fassbinder ran an apiary.

After 1979 Barbara worked as a nurse at Memorial Hospital in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. While working in the emergency room in 1986, she contracted the HIV virus. At that time, her children were ages 3, 6, and 9. Fearing the prejudice against AIDS victims, she did not disclose her diagnosis until 1990, when she decided to announce her infection to encourage other health care professionals take the necessary precautions against HIV infection on the job.

Once publicly identified as a health care worker who contracted AIDS on the job, Fassbinder became a popular presenter at conferences and nationally televised interview programs. She gave testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in 1991 as a spokeswoman against mandatory disclosure legislation for persons infected with AIDS. Her efforts contributed to the widespread adoption of universal health precautions in health care settings and the humane treatment of persons with AIDS. Fassbinder died of the complications of AIDS in 1994.


6.00 linear inches

Photographs in Box 2, 3 videocassettes [V201, V219-V220] boxes

Language of Materials



Rural nurse who contracted AIDS on the job and became a national spokeswoman for occupational safety.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor nos. 590 and 667, respectively) were donated by James and Ethel Herring and David Fassbinder in 1999.

Doris Malkmus, 2000.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)