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Medical History Comes to Life through First Person Accounts in National Library of Medicine Digital Oral History Collections

New Web Interface Allows Easier Searching of Text and Audio Content

The National Library of Medicine's History of Medicine Division is pleased to announce the release of a new Web interface (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/manuscripts/oh.html) to its oral history collections, as part of its growing electronic texts program. Content includes digital editions of transcripts and any accompanying audio content when feasible. Users can browse content by title, interviewee name, and subject. Full-text searching is available across all sub-collections, across each sub-collection, and within each transcript.

Currently the site contains 107 interviews in two sub-collections consisting of over 13,000 pages and 80 hours of audio content. These interviews represent the majority of HMD's oral histories conducted by HMD staff during the 1960s when HMD had an active oral history program. HMD still conducts the occasional interview for specific projects, but the majority of our post-1970 holdings consist of interviews that are the product of external researchers or practitioners, or in our capacity as the service point for programs such as that of the Food and Drug Administration History Office.

Some of the topics covered include: the development of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by "Big Four" members including influential surgeon William Halsted and renowned gynecologist Howard Kelly; Guy Tugwell and George Larrick discussing their roles in the 1938 and 1951 revisions to the Pure Food and Drug Act; the practice of surgery in the United States; and medical economics in the 1930s. There is also a series of 13 interviews with homeopathy physicians, conducted in 1968. There is a separate sub-collection of interviews with primary care physicians (internists) conducted by Fitzhugh Mullan in the 1990s as part of research conducted for his book, Big Doctoring in America: Profiles in Primary Care.

Users can also hear Vivien Thomas, the celebrated African American surgical technician, speak about working with surgeon Alfred Blalock to develop procedures to treat blue baby syndrome, US Senator Lister Hill (a key figure in the creation and passage of the National Library of Medicine Act of 1956) discussing his family, life as a politician, and health care legislation, and a short recording of celebrated English nurse Florence Nightingale.

Future content will include interviews conducted as part of NICHSR's History of Health Services Research project, oral histories from the FDA's active oral history program, and the Medical Library Association.

Transcripts are marked up following the Text Encoding Initiative's (TEI) XML encoding level 1 parameters. Audio content is delivered via a custom Flash player and is downloadable as an MP3. Archival WAV files are available upon request.

The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library, is a component of the National Institutes of Health.