The 13th Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) conference will be held in Dublin on 15-18 October, welcoming several thousand nutrition scientists and practitioners to a four-day long conference exploring European perspectives on malnutrition in an obese world. As part of the conference, the Nutrition Society of the UK and Ireland will attempt to create a virtual archive that represents FENS conferences from 1973 to 2019. It will draw upon its own archive, and other material in digital repositories, to curate an exhibition that aims to maintain the integrity of the records and history of European nutritional science.

The European nutritional science community has created minutes, images, oral histories, articles, programmes, correspondence and websites over the years, which demonstrate the successive collaborations that resulted in FENS conferences. These records embody the collective memory of thirteen host organisations representing thirteen cities in eleven different countries over forty-six years.

The business activities of the organising committees are captured in disparate analogue and digital records, but because the organisational memory of the FENS conferences has been in the peripatetic custodianship of more than one country, there has been no central collecting repository or place of deposit for the records. There has been no continuous and long-term preservation, nor any custodial or administrative history about the origins and responsibilities of the record-creating, memory-creating bodies.

From an archivist’s perspective, this is a diasporic archive where no single acquiring history of the FENS records exists to date receipt of records, and no individual accession register details the pattern of successive ownership nor the means by which records might have reached the archive.

The narrative for this archive exhibition will be shown through analogue and digital material that enriches our understanding of the business activities undertaken by the current, and eleven former, Presidents and organising committees of FENS conferences. It will reflect on the scientific themes that dominated research interests at each quadrennial conference, and illustrate with abstracts, papers and posters, the questions raised and how and by whom they were explored. It will recall the recipients of former FENS awards and their commemorative lectures.

This unique archive exhibition aims to celebrate the pluralistic ideologies at the centre of previous FENS conferences. Included in this celebration of scientific collaborations are the cultural diversions prepared by each local organising committee which showcase national heritage for the enjoyment of conference delegates, welcoming them to the host cities.

As a prelude to the exhibition, a series of specially selected archive documents introduced by guest writers will be published monthly on the Society’s website.

Visit the Society’s blog to find the featured archive documents during the run up to the 13th European Nutrition Conference, 15-18 October 2019. 

Do you have something to contribute to the exhibition? If you have records, photographs, papers, recordings or anecdotal information that you would like to discuss then please feel free to contact the Nutrition Society Archivist: [email protected]