Friday, 27 March 2015

It’s official!

We’ve known for a while now that we were successful in our archive service accreditation application – we were told towards the end of November last year. But now we’ve got the certificate to prove it!

On Tuesday night, the National Records of Scotland hosted an evening reception where we were presented our certificate by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs. Louise and I represented LHSA, and Jacky MacBeath (Head of Museums) and Stuart Lewis (Acting Director of Library and University Collections and Head of Research and Learning Services) joined us from the University. And of course we were delighted to be there with the other recipients of certificates from Falkirk Archives and, our hosts, the National Records of  Scotland.

The official photographer for the evening captured the moment (from left to right: Jacky, me, Fiona Hyslop, Louise and Stuart.

And Stuart, our unofficial photographer, got another of us with the certificate….now where to hang it?

Ruth Honeybone, LHSA Manager


Friday, 20 March 2015

Popstars in the Archive

Closing into the final month working on the Wellcome Trust funded HIV/AIDS project at LHSA, I have been cataloguing GD22 - The Take Care Campaign. The Take Care Campaign began in the late 1980s in response to cases of HIV and AIDS in the Edinburgh and Lothian being four times the national average, affecting mainly young heterosexual people. The Campaign was intended to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst all members of the community and involved advertising, events, and education, which were often described as ‘ground-breaking’. The Campaign took a very direct, explicate and vibrant approach to get their message across. Straight to the point promotion of safe sex was disseminated which stressed the importance for everyone to ‘Take care of themselves and encourage others to take care’. 
So what was it about the Campaign’s promotional activities that made it so effective? I turned to the Take Care Campaign Report, 1988 – 1989 (GD22/4/1/2) for more details. The Report is really useful in providing a background to the HIV/AIDS problem in Edinburgh and the need for such a Campaign. It also provides a record of the promotional activities the Campaign used to get their message across. Some of the most innovative ideas included: turning a Lothian bus pink and decorating it in the Take Care message; a banner bearing the slogan, ‘Take Care of the one you love and AIDS concerns us all’ was displayed on the railings at the top of the Mound; and the Campaign promoted the first installation of condom machines in pubs, ‘discos’, and large workplaces.

However, after I had an all singing and dancing wedding weekend, Deacon Blues ‘Dignity’ being a party favourite, coming back to work on Monday morning was a treat when I came across a signed copy of a Deacon Blue vinyl within the collection. 
Signed Deacon Blue Vinyl 'Wages Day' (GD22/10/8)
Deacon Blue were an Edinburgh based band, having their main hits in the late 1980s but who also supported the Take Care Campaign. They featured in special concerts and participated in advertising the Take Care message. They were not the only ones though! James with their famous hit ‘Sit-down’ were also advocates of the Campaign, as well as Scottish band Simple Minds. Within the collection there are some great images that illustrate how the Campaign used contemporary pop-culture to connect with the audience in which it wished to target.
James postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign (GD22/14/4/6/12)

At Deacon Blue concerts 6700 postcards which pictured the band with the lead singer wearing a pink watch, with the Take Care message, were given to fans as their tickets were checked. According to the Campaign Report, ‘The cleaners were asked to set aside the cards which were left behind. These amounted to 133, indicating a very good initial retention rate’. Similarly at a Simple Minds concert at Meadowbank, Take Care posters were produced for the event and Take Care messages were flashed on electronic scoreboards during the event.   
Deacon Blue postcard advertising the Take Care Campaign, given out at their concert (GD22/14/4/6/15)

These were just some of the innovative ways that the Take Care Campaign effectively got such an important message across during a very threatening time to health in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Engaging with Education: Creating resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections.

Last week, I began a month long project to make the newly accessible HIV/AIDS collections (conserved and catalogued last year) more available to a larger and more diverse audience. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Provision for Public Engagement’ scheme, which allows previously Wellcome Trust funded projects to apply for further funding to develop a strategy to encourage the public to use and engage with the material. Our project aims to create educational resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections and linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, focusing on the year groups S2 to S3. These resources will be uploaded on to a dedicated website and are for use by teachers and educational professionals.

Collage of postcards from the 'Take Care' Campaign
This is a short term project which hopes to achieve a lot. As such, there is a large group of people who are helping out. Firstly, the website is being created in house by the Interactive Content Team. They have come up with some great designs and ideas for the website based on the collection items. Next we have Iain Philips, who is on a short term secondment from John Lewis, thanks to a John Lewis Golden Jubilee Award. He will be working 2 days a week for the next 20 weeks at LHSA, and for his first month he will be making educational resources and helping with the promotion of the website. Clair Millar, Project Cataloguing Archivist, is also helping out on the project. She will be providing some historical context for the website, describing the problem of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh and the Lothians in more detail, to give a background to the collections. Conservation volunteer, Colette Bush, will also be helping out on this project. Colette is starting a Master’s degree in Museum Studies and will also be making educational resources for the website. Finally, the LHSA team will help with checking the website for any errors or navigational problems, making this project a truly collaborative effort! 
Collage of Postcards made for World AIDS day
As I trained as a paper conservator, this project is a little bit out of my comfort zone. So I have been talking to teachers, youth workers and educational professionals to find out more about the curriculum and how to make educational resources. I first dipped my toes in to world of Education by attending a one-day workshop provided by the Scottish Council on Archives entitled “Understanding the Curriculum”. This gave a basic overview of the education system in Scotland (invaluable for someone like me who is from south of the border!) and gives an introduction on how to make educational resources based on archive material. I’ve also spoken with representatives from Education Scotland who gave useful information on teacher’s needs and timetables as well as giving insightful feedback on our resource drafts.  Edinburgh University’s Widening Participation team have also been very positive about the project and will help us advertise the website when it is completed to the local schools that they work with. We’ve also had a great response from Crew 2000, a charity that provides information, advice and support for young people on sexual health and drug use.  

Overall, the project has got off to a great start. The HIV/AIDS collections have huge education potential and there is loads of material to choose from to make engaging and informative resources. The website will be launched in May, so keep your eyes peeled for project updates in the coming months!

Friday, 6 March 2015

The early days of dietetics in Edinburgh...

It was observed in early hospitals that patients tended to get better more quickly if they were well nourished. It was also noted that patients with certain illnesses sometimes needed more of particular foods while others could not tolerate some foods at all.
According to the British Dietetic Association website, the earliest dietary observations were at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1687 and the first recorded therapeutic diet was at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford in 1837. It was not until the late 19th century and early 20th century, however that the science of dietetics was developed, first in the United States of America. In 1920 a report was commissioned by the Board of Managers of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) to investigate dietetic arrangements and the Dietetic Department opened in 1924, the first hospital known to have developed such a department. Sister Ruth Pybus was appointed dietician and obtained a Rockefeller Scholarship to study dietetics in American hospitals. In 1928, the Rockefeller Foundation also generously gave the hospital a grant towards the building of facilities for the Dietetic Department which included a metabolic unit, two wards, a diet kitchen and laboratory. The image shows the diet kitchen in 1950.

Staff working in the dietetic kitchen, ward 21 RIE, 1950 (P/PL1/S/395)
Much ingenuity was exercised in the creation of recipes in the early days. The ‘liver diet’ and the ‘spleen diet’ were created for patients with pernicious anaemia and great effort was made in producing bran wafers for diabetics, made from bran with the starch removed put into a jelly of agar-agar or carragheen moss. The consistency was described as being like fairy toast with the appearance of thin firelighters, but they were much in demand by patients! LHSA holds a set of tasty recipes from the Dietetic Department from the 1950s, which includes this one for chicken in jelly (LHB1/89/4/1).

Recipe for chicken in jelly, 1950s (LHB1/89/4/1)

References: The Growth and Development of the Dietetic Department: 4 The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh by Anna Buchan, International Journal of Food and Nutrition vol. VII, no. 2, Summer 1954.

British Dietetic Association website: