This page is under development, September 2014

Policies, Postcards and Prophylactics: a project to catalogue and conserve LHSA’s UNESCO-awarded HIV/AIDS collections (1983-2010)

Project aims and objectives

This 12-month project will complete the cataloguing and offer comprehensive conservation of the HIV/AIDS collections inscribed to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2011, and a supplementary HIV/AIDS collection. Of the 12 collections, four remain uncatalogued and all require conservation treatment.

The collections largely consist of loose paper documents, but there are also many other modern materials that pose interesting conservation questions. For example, there are colour photographs, negatives and slides, VHS, audio cassette tapes and 3 ½” floppy discs as well as rubber and latex items such as balloons and condoms.

The condition of these objects varies depending on the previous storage and handling of the items. The damage to paper items mostly consists of tears, creasing and planar distortion. However, deterioration to the modern plastic objects has mainly been caused by the inherent nature of the object, for example balloons have hardened due to the loss of plasticiser.

Treatment of the paper items will involve surface cleaning, tear repair, flattening and also rehousing in archival boxes.  Media items such as VHS, audio cassette tapes and 3 ½” floppy discs are at risk of becoming obsolete, so an effort will be made to extract the data from these items and transfer it to modern data storage. Other modern plastic materials will be treated on a case by case basis and will involve the rehousing of these objects in suitable archival containers.

Please click here to find out more about the conservation of this modern collection.

For more information about the project please see the edited application form, and supplementary information and appendix to the application (in PDF format, Adobe Reader can be downloaded here), or contact us.

Project updates

September 2014

The programme for a symposium on the conservation of modern materials in medical archives (based on our experiences of this project) has been released. This one-day event will bring together conservators, archivists and curators on 28 November 2014. Please click here for more details about the symposium and how to book your free place.

July 2014

A further small grant from the Wellcome Trust has been awarded to LHSA to put on a symposium for the conservation of modern materials and funding applications to the Wellcome Trust. This is expected to be held towards the end of 2014.

June 2014

The Project Cataloguing Archivist, Karyn Williamson, was appointed on 19 May and is now working closely with Emily, the Project Conservator, to catalogue and make available the four remaining uncatalogued collections.

March 2014

Completed conservation of GD22 and began treatment of GD24.

Recruitment for the Project Cataloguing Archivist for this project is underway, with a closing date for applications of 3 April 2014.

November 2013

The deadline for applications for the Project Conservator post has now passed and the recruitment process is well underway. Interviews for this post will be on 4 December.


LHSA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Wellcome Trust.


  A diverse group of objects found in the HIV/AIDS collections consisting of VHS and audio cassettes, 3.5 inch floppy discs, stickers, balloons, badges, condoms and paper materials