Documenting a Crisis: AIDS campaign archives

LSHTM Archives at the AIDS Histories and Cultures Festival 2018

On Monday 2nd July, the Archives Service took part in the Beat the Bugs event at the Royal College of Nursing. This was one of the first events of the AIDS Histories and Cultures Festival 2018. The festival aims to explore how HIV/AIDS has been experienced, represented, and remembered. Events include workshops, film screenings, party nights, music, talks, and performance. There is more information on the festival here 

We chose a selection of material from our seven collections relating to HIV and AIDS which include the AIDS Social History Project and material from the Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health, there is more information on the AIDS collections on our website. Material displayed included press cuttings, reports, leaflets, trading cards, badges, hats and a t-shirt. The Archives Service holds over 700 posters and a selection of these were displayed on boards and in a powerpoint slide show.

The item which received the most interest was a graphic novel entitled ‘Jo’ which was published in Belgium and written in French, it tells the unfortunate story of a young women called Jo who contracts HIV from drug use and dies from AIDS. Two of the guests at the event remember reading it in their School libraries in France and one described how traumatic she had found it.

We also displayed a selection of collectable trading cards on AIDS Awareness produced by comic book publisher Eclipse Enterprises. The set of 110 cards feature a variety of HIV/AIDS information and organisations, as well as personalities who died from AIDS, or were involved in AIDS Awareness. The cards include entries for Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury and Rock Hudson and organisations such as ACT UP and The Foundations for AIDS Research (amFAR). The cards provide more information on the topic, individual and theme on the back. They were originally distributed in packs of ten along with a free condom, with 15% of the proceeds were donated to ‘Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’.

The Archives is fortunate to have this beautiful brooch of an AIDS red ribbon. This item was donated by Lyn Rothman, the founder of AIDS Crisis Trust and patron and board member of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. She kindly offered to donate a Red Ribbon brooch designed by her friend, Andrew Logan, the English artist and jewellery-maker. The pendant was designed when the first AIDS ribbons appeared and having seen many of his friends die from AIDS, Andrew felt it was a fitting celebration of their lives. The original red ribbon was designed by New York-based Visual AIDS Artists Caucus in 1991 as a consciousness raising symbol, not as a commercial or trademark tool, and therefore the original creators wished to remain anonymous and the image is free of copyright.

For more information on the Archives Service, please visit our website.


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