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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences


The Chemical Heritage Foundation


315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-2702


(215) 873-8236
(215) 629-5136

Fax number

(215) 873-5260

Website URL

Contact Person

David J. Caruso, Program Manager, Oral History
T: (215) 873-8236
F: (215) 629-5260


Access and Services

A bound copy of each oral history interview and all information pertaining to the interview are deposited at the Othmer Library of Chemical History and are available for interlibrary loan and purchase. Each oral history file contains the original tapes, the master copy of the final transcript, the original verbatim transcript, and the working transcript with the interviewee's comments. Miscellaneous research material collected in the course of preparing for the interview, such as scientific papers, patents, pictures, and unpublished manuscripts, is available for in-house use or purchase. Interested readers may generally use the entire file, subject to usage guidelines.


The Oral History Program collects and preserves the knowledge and experiences of key scientists, entrepreneurs, and technologists in chemistry and related molecular science fields and industries. We conduct carefully researched, recorded, and transcribed interviews, to create the highest quality oral histories intended for the widest possible use.

The Oral History Program is built on the core principle that the preservation of the insights and experiences of individuals in the chemical enterprise facilitates an understanding of innovation, achievement, and the development and evolution of scientific disciplines. By building a comprehensive and informative collection, the Oral History Program will preserve a unique set of perspectives and enable current and future scholarship on twentieth century science.


Collection includes over 300 oral history interviews and over 2000 hours of interview recordings. CHF conducts between 30 and 50 new interviews per year. Once an interview has been edited and indexed it is added to CHF's library and website.

Collection Description

The Oral History Program has been an integral part of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) since the early 1980s. The program's initial objective was to record the recollections and experiences of eminent scientists and industrialists in the chemical and molecular sciences. Since that time, it has grown to encompass over 300 recorded interviews. Our collection includes the experiences and life stories of Phillip A. Sharp, Linus Pauling, George B. Rathmann, Carl Djerassi, David Baltimore, and 342 other other luminaries. In addition to recording the life stories of key individuals, the collection has focused on historical events and field shifts; for example, the development and evolution of the Gordon Research Conferences, the chemical history of electronics, the history of Arnold Beckman and Beckman Instruments, and the history of information sciences.


Material Type

Collection includes audio recordings.


The Chemical Heritage Foundation's Oral History Program holds copyright to the recordings and transcripts in its program and provides access to these materials strictly for educational and research purposes. The fact that transcript materials are posted on CHF's website does not make them public domain documents, nor does it constitute a right to copy and/or publish these oral history materials. No use (beyond limited quotation) should be made of this material without the expressed permission of the CHF Oral History Program. Permission must be obtained for publication of any material beyond that which might jeopardize the integrity or value of the whole copyrighted work, as covered in the Fair Use portion of United States copyright law. To gain permission write to the manager of the Oral History Program at:

Program Manager, Oral History
Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 873-8260

To view oral history materials, you can:
- Visit CHF, Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or by appointment with the manager of the Oral History Program
- Search the oral history abstracts database and fill out an online order form to request a full oral history transcript
- Write or call the manager of the Oral History Program

Access Levels: Access to oral history interviews varies. The access level for each oral history is indicated in the oral history abstracts database.

Free Access: May view, quote from, cite, or reproduce the oral history with the permission of CHF. Please note: Users citing interviews for purposes of publication are obliged under the terms of the Chemical Heritage Foundation Oral History Program to credit CHF using the following format: William Wishnick, interview by James J. Bohning at Witco Corporation, 13 May 1991 (Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, Oral History Transcript #0093).

Semi-restricted Access: May view the oral history with the permission of CHF. Permission of the interviewee is required to quote from, cite, or reproduce the oral history. Please contact CHF to request interviewee's permission.

Restricted Access: Permission of interviewee required to view, quote from, cite, or reproduce the oral history. Please contact CHF to request interviewee's permission.

Special Research Status: Transcript remains unedited or lightly edited due to the interviewee's request or incapacitation or to CHF's discretion. Transcript may not contain an abstract, table of contents, or index. May view the oral history with the permission of CHF; however, one is not allowed to quote from, cite, or reproduce the oral history.


Collection includes comprehensive, professionally edited transcripts of interviews with leading figures in the chemical and molecular sciences and related process industries to provide autobiographical accounts that supplement material already available in the written record. Transcripts are not currently available online. However, the abstracts and table of contents of all completed interviews are available online. Transcripts are available via interlibrary loan and purchase.