Friday, 6 June 2014

Keeping the memory alive...

This week's blog comes from our Project Cataloguing Archivist, Karyn, working with LHSA's HIV and AIDS collections:

If you are an avid reader of the LHSA blog, you may have spotted a previous blog post by Project Conservator Emily Hick describing her role in preserving several of the HIV/ AIDS collections held in our archive, or Emily’s more recent posts on the preservation of plastic material and the digitisation of audiovisual material.

My role in this new and exciting project began three weeks ago when I began working to catalogue and make available four of LHSA’s HIV/AIDS collections. Over the next eight months I will be box listing, ordering and cataloguing:
  • GD21 - Crusaid Scotland collection
  • GD22 - Take Care campaign collection
  • GD25 - Papers of Helen Zealley, Director of Public Health, Lothian Health Board
  • LHB45 - Lothian Health Board AIDS papers

Promotional slogan for the World AIDS campaign

LHSA also holds several more collections relating to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the late eighties and the nineties. Edinburgh was at one point described as the ‘AIDS capital of Europe’ and while many cities across the UK were refusing to take action against the viral epidemic of HIV and AIDS, Edinburgh was at the centre of policy establishment, aiming to tackling the disease head on, and promotional campaigns, designed to educate the public around the dangers of unsafe sex, helping to slow the spread of infection and hopefully to eventually eradicate the illness altogether.

The story documented in these collections is so important that they were added to the UNESCOUK Memory of the World Register  in 2011, LHSA’s only inscription on the register to date. Although the epidemic may be over, the fight against HIV/AIDS is still very much alive and these collections are instrumental in documenting the battle.

The CRUSAID Scotland logo and letterhead (GD21)
My cataloguing journey begins with GD21- The Crusaid Scotland collection. Crusaid Scotland was part of Crusaid, a nationwide charity  founded in 1986 with the aim of giving support and a better quality of life to those affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. The charity also supported research into treatment and possible vaccination against AIDS. In association with the Terence Higgins Trust, Crusaid also set up the National Hardship Fund, which gave financial help to HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Although a relatively small collection, it not only highlights Crusaid Scotland’s involvement in local campaigns like the Take Care campaign, but also describes their work on national and worldwide campaigns like ‘World Aids Day’ and  ‘The Names Project UK’, both aimed at raising awareness of HIV/AIDS. The collection is interesting as it provides a comprehensive overview of what was being done to raise awareness across Scotland - and not just by the charity.


The Crusaid collection (GD21)

Over the next eight months I’ll be writing more about both these campaigns and various other treasures I uncover while working with these collections. It is exciting to be working on fairly modern collections with such an eclectic range of record types. The element of surprise is always present and I look forward to seeing what I uncover next!

A selection of materials from the Crusaid collection promoting the Take Care HIV awareness campaign (GD21)

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