City of London Corporation archives awarded grant for preserving HIV/AIDS collections

Lord Mayor

London Metropolitan Archives has been awarded a major grant by the Wellcome Trust to support its Positive history: preserving the archives of HIV/AIDS: care and testimony project.

Three recently acquired archive collections held by LMA will be made available by the project to highlight two important threads of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and its devastating aftermath – namely pioneering medical treatment, care and support; and lived experience of patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and how their diagnoses impacted upon their families, partners, friends, and carers.

The collections comprise 4,000 patient case files from the Mildmay Hospital archives; over 100 interviews of people with AIDS, their families, partners, and carers, filmed by the ‘AIDS Since the 80s’ project (now, National HIV Story Trust); and the archive of support charity Positively UK (formerly, Positively Women).

Wendy Hyde, chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said: “London Metropolitan Archives is well-known and widely respected in its field for the extent of its collections and the diligence and expertise of its staff whom, I know, appreciate the significance of these newly acquired records.”

“It is abundantly clear that they will be of immense value to anyone researching the history of sexuality, science and medicine, so my colleagues and I are very grateful to the Wellcome Trust for supporting LMA’s work.”

Anyone wishing to consult the collections will be offered access to online catalogues to item level of all three archives; a research database of information from the Mildmay Hospital case files; and digital access to the 150 hours of filmed interviews.

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The Mildmay Hospital patient case files and other material containing personal information about named individuals will be restricted, in accordance with the UK Data Protection Act 2018.

Bona fide academic researchers will be allowed tailored access to this material with permission, on condition that individuals are not identified. All other material will be publicly available, including the AIDS since the 80s-filmed interviews, which form a substantial part of the project’s collections.

Geoff Pick, director of the City of London Corporation’s London Metropolitan Archives, said: “All too often, people at the heart of the HIV/AIDS epidemic were stigmatised, isolated and ignored, so the Wellcome Trust’s generous support of this project is crucial in ensuring that their lives will be remembered and their voices heard.

“Not only will these valuable archives form a central part of the history of London and Londoners preserved and made available at LMA, they will also provide a fuller picture of a period of profound societal challenge and change.”

Paul Coleman, trustee and founder of the National HIV Story Trust, added: The NHST was formed to preserve the direct experiences of people who were affected by the AIDS pandemic of the 80s and 90s, and to make them readily accessible to people of our present generations.

“The Welcome Trust’s support makes this a reality through the excellence of the LMA and will enshrine this period with a gravity that it deserves, and ensure that this important testimony is never forgotten.”

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