Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cataloguing the HIV/AIDS collection

After completing my first month in position as cataloguing archivist on the HIV/AIDS collections at the LSHTM I thought I’d give a quick post about my impressions and plans for the duration of the project. I will be updating the LSHTM library blog over the course of the project with news on the progress and highlighting some of the archival gems from the collections.

What does the AIDS archive contain?

The LSHTM HIV/AIDS archive contains six separate collections that represent some of the epidemiological and social policy research that the School has supported since the 1980s these include:

  •     Personal papers of the current LSHTM Director, Professor Baron Peter Piot, covering his career both as a pioneering medical research on HIV/AIDS (1982-1993) in Africa and his later work as Director of UNAIDS (1996-2008).
  •     The papers of Professor Virginia Berridge chiefly relating to her involvement in the AIDS Social History Programme (1987-1994) documenting and evaluating UK government response to the crisis as it happened and capturing and documenting the response of the media and key protagonists during this period.
  •     The papers of Professor Kaye Wellings and her work relating to the European Commission project, Concerted Action: Assessing AIDS Prevention Strategies, that was a longitudinal study from 1988-1998, that collected and evaluated AIDS awareness campaign material from across Europe.
  •     Collected research material from Project SIGMA (Socio-Sexual Investigations of Gay Men and AIDS) conducted from 1989-2009, that provides comprehensive grey literature on AIDS alongside anonymised diaries of sexual behaviour.

The collections represent the interwoven and complex strands of the disease combining classic epidemiology with the social and political consequences in both a UK and a global context.

First steps

Before undertaking cataloguing the collections my first task is to box list and repackage the archival material. These are the first steps in the cataloguing process as it is necessary to both have clear understanding of the current internal arrangement of each collection and to have carried out the necessary preservation work beforehand so as not to disrupt future arrangement. One of my initial tasks will be the repackaging of the Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health Research poster collections. These posters, spanning from the 1980s-1990s, are one of the jewels of the collection as they represent the various different government responses to AIDS within Europe. An Estonian example below shows how AIDS was sometimes represented with the same iconography as the plague in medieval times.

In total there are over 700 posters within the collection along with a variety of AIDS awareness campaign literature and ephemera. It is a fascinating collection and will explore the contents more in later posts but for now I will leave you with a few images of a recent display of some of the ephemera in the collection. 

A selection of our AIDS posters (do not worry these are copies of the originals!)
A selection of ephemera from the Centre for Sexual adn Reproductive Health AIDS collection with postcards, condom packets, booklets, badges and a sterile needle kit.

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