Collection MsC-64 - Blair Henshaw HIV/AIDS philatelic collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Blair Henshaw HIV/AIDS philatelic collection

General material designation

  • Textual records
  • Philatelic records
  • Photographic materials
  • Artefacts

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of collection.

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Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1988-2003 (Creation)
    Henshaw, Blair

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 24 cm of philatelic records
37 cm of textual records
46 phone cards
23 photographs
3 posters
3 plaques
2 pendants
1 prize ribbon

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Blair Coldwell Henshaw was born July 2, 1949, in Digby, Nova Scotia. He moved to Vancouver in the 1960s and worked as a letter carrier, a hospital orderly and as a library assistant with the National Film Board. Henshaw was a long-time philatelist and began developing a collection of HIV/AIDS stamps after the world’s first AIDS stamp was released in 1988. He continued collecting until late 2001. Henshaw was a member of the BC Philatelic Society, and created thematic philatelic exhibitions under the banner of the AIDS on Stamps project, an independent non-profit AIDS awareness initiative organized by Henshaw. In 1992, seven years after being diagnosed with HIV, Henshaw began lobbying Canada Post and the federal government to produce a Canadian stamp featuring HIV/AIDS in order to raise awareness about the disease in Canada and abroad. After four years of lobbying and public outreach by Henshaw, on May 8, 1996, Canada Post became the 59th postal jurisdiction to issue an HIV/AIDS awareness stamp. The stamp featured an image by Vancouver artist Joe Average, and was released to coincide with the 11th International AIDS conference held in Vancouver. Henshaw died June 15, 2002, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Custodial history

The Henshaw collection was auctioned November 8, 2004, at All Nations Stamp and Coin. It was acquired by John Keenlyside and donated to Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books.

Scope and content

Collection consists of first issues of stamps, postcards, comics and other materials related to Blair Henshaw’s collecting and AIDS-awareness advocacy work. Collection has been arranged into the following five series: Stamps and related records (1988–[before 2002]), Postcards, posters and phone cards (1983–[before 2002]), Exhibition records (1993–1999), AIDS on Stamps project files [199-]–2003 and Correspondence (1993–2002).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Collection was arranged into series by the archivist based on creator's collecting areas and existing divisions of records.

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Availability of other formats

Items from the collection have been digitized and are available through the SFU Digitized Collections:

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Alpha-numeric designations

BCAUL control number: SFL--2305

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Rules for Archival Description



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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created May 12, 2014 (LZ)
Revised to include series- and file-level descriptions November 29, 2017 (SS)

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


Accession area

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