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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences

About this Guide

The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest medical library and the nation's library of record for biomedicine and health care. The intent of its collections is to improve health, to further health care thought and practice, to support life sciences research, and to deliver biomedical information to the widest possible audience. Biomedical is defined as pertaining to health care, to the practice of the science and art of medicine broadly conceived, and to those branches of the life sciences which are fundamental to that science and art.


Oral histories are an important resource for historians and other scholars seeking to understand individual careers, the development of institutions and disciplines, and the process of biomedical research. Oral history interviews are conducted by a wide range of individuals and organizations for a variety of purposes. In the case of large projects, e.g., the Alpha Omega Alpha Leaders in American Medicine series, copies of the interview tapes and transcripts may be easily found at multiple institutions. The products of smaller oral history projects, housed in a variety of collections, can be more difficult to locate. This directory, while not exhaustive, includes over fifty U.S. institutions with oral history collections in biomedicine, public health, and health care. We hope that this number will grow as we update the Directory.


The records are arranged alphabetically by U.S. state and city, and may also be searched by subject area (e.g., history of pediatrics or anesthesiology.) Researchers looking for oral history interviews with a particular person should consult the index of interviewees. Individual institution listings sometimes include a list of interviewees in that collection. For each record, the person named as Contact has provided the information about the collections. Researchers should get in touch with the contact person for more details.


We invite libraries, archives, museums, and professional societies which include oral histories of medicine, biomedical sciences, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and related fields in their collections to become part of the directory. Please send new and revised information to the History of Medicine Division via mail, e-mail, or fax.


Please contact:

Susan Speaker
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
Bethesda, Maryland 20894
Phone: (301) 435-7648
Fax: (301) 402-0872
Email: Speakes1@mail.nlm.nih.gov