GPEI History Project

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to eradicate polio worldwide.

Upon request from the Polio Oversight Board in 2016 to document the history of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the partnership designated a cross-institutional team composed of members of the core partner agencies, and hired staff to execute the project. The project documents global polio eradication, the GPEI partnership, and lessons learned through oral histories, artifacts, and records.

Main Objectives

  • Identify and strengthen existing polio-specific collections held by the GPEI partner archives and other organizations with a significant role in polio eradication. These collections can include documents, artifacts, photos and moving images, oral histories, and more
  • Supplement gaps in the partnership’s archival record by collecting and preserving additional GPEI artifacts and records
  • Produce 40-100 oral histories targeting subjective first-person accounts of polio eradication and the global partnership

The GPEI History Project will bring the story of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to a broader audience both now and after certification by collaborating with GPEI personnel and partner archives to maintain the history.

In addition to facilitating the collection and preservation of GPEI artifacts and records, the GPEI History Project represents the pre-existing polio collections housed within the archival repositories of each partner. For preliminary information about these collections, sample inventories of polio collections, and links to additional resources, please see below:

Rotary International

The Rotary International Archives preserves business records of the PolioPlus Program of Rotary International, including its international operations through national, regional, and international PolioPlus committees; fundraising and marketing campaigns; and partnerships with other organizations. Holdings also include artifacts created by Rotary and its partner organizations, such as apparel, original art, banners, posters, promotional giveaways, vaccine paraphernalia; awards presented to Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation in recognition of its commitments to polio eradication; audiovisual materials like photographs, films, analog and digital video and audio; and the websites for the End Polio Now campaign and the End Polio Now Facebook page.
More information.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository of records created by CDC. As such, NARA is responsible for the custody, use, withdrawal, and preservation of records containing adequate and proper documentation of the functions, policies, procedures, and essential transactions of the CDC. Federal records are public property and managed according to applicable laws and regulations.

The David J. Sencer CDC Museum manages holdings that include artifacts created by CDC and its partner organizations such as: graphic arts, laboratory tools, sculptures, textiles, prints, photography, media, and more. The museum collaborates with Emory University’s Emory Center for Digital Scholarship to create the Global Health Chronicles website, an online archives on public health efforts to prevent, control and eradicate global disease. This website includes an archival chronicle on CDC’s early involvement in polio.

World Health Organization

The mission of the Records and Archives service is to manage and preserve the current and semi-active records and historical archives of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is made up of two units: Records and Archives. The semi-active records are jointly managed by the two units. WHO records comprise correspondence, contracts, minutes, studies, travel and mission reports, etc. The WHO Archives conserve more than 3 linear kilometres of documents which have acquired administrative, legal, historic and cultural value. They are WHO’s institutional memory and trace the Organization’s history.
More information.


The UNICEF Archives span over 70 years of history. It ensures the preservation of and access to recorded information related to the rights and welfare of the world’s children since World War II. The archives serve as a source of knowledge for the evolution of UNICEF as well as for its collaboration with national and global partners. At the present time, the UNICEF Archives is closed while the organization reviews its archival materials and policies as part of a broader enterprise content management improvement initiative.

More on the GPEI history project