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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences


History Office
Food and Drug Administration


White Oak Building 32, Rm. 3318
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
Silver Spring, Maryland 20993


(301) 796-8950

Fax number

(301) 796-8950

Website URL

Contact Person

John P. Swann, Ph.D.
(301) 827-3756
Suzanne Junod, Ph.D.
(301) 827-3759


Access and Services

The FDA oral history transcripts and tapes are part of the manuscript collections of the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, and are thus subject to the access guidelines of that institution.


The FDA oral history collection documents the work of FDA in the headquarters and around the nation, addressing both everyday concerns and major actions of investigators in the field and policy makers in headquarters, explaining how FDA shaped regulations to carry out enforcement of the many laws it regulates, from the 1906 Food and Drugs Act to the present.


The total number of oral history transcripts is approximately 230; the History of Medicine Division can provide an exact number. The FDA oral history program began in the mid-1970s, and continues today.

Collection Description

The FDA oral history transcripts vary in size from a few pages to several hundred, and the total number of interviews is approximately 230. Most of these were conducted by the FDA History Office, but several interviews were conducted by James Harvey Young of Emory University and some of his students. While most interviews involve FDA officials, some were conducted with outside individuals who had a close association with the FDA, such as Morris Fishbein of the American Medical Association and Robert Fischelis of the American Pharmaceutical Association. The extensive list of names and topics can be obtained from the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine.

Material Type

Most oral history transcripts include audio tapes. Since the interviewers and interviewees typically do some editing of the transcript, the tape and transcript may not agree entirely. The transcripts include a table of contents arranged by transcript page and by side of each tape.


Selected oral history transcripts have either portions or their entirety restricted for a limited amount of time based on the interviewee's wishes. This constitutes an extremely small fraction of the FDA oral history transcripts.


Yes, the collection includes a transcript of every interview. These are available online through the FDA History Office site, . The NLM finding aid for the FDA Oral History Collection (OH 81) also has links to the transcripts: