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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences


Office of NIH History and Stetten Museum


Office of History
National Institutes of Health
Building 45, 3AN38, MSC 6330
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-6330


(301) 496-6610

Fax number

(301) 402-1434

Website URL

Contact Person

Robert Martensen, MD, PhD, Director
Barbara Harkins, Archivist/Librarian
Michele Lyons, Curator


Access and Services

Services are provided on a case-by-case basis. We have a small staff but are able to accommodate most requests. We do not loan out the tapes, but many of the oral histories are available digitally.


The Office of NIH History maintains a collection of several hundred oral history interviews conducted by staff and fellows since the late 1980s. The subjects of the interviews include NIH scientists and administrators.


There are several hundred oral histories in our collection. Oral histories are added to the collection each year by the Stetten fellows and by staff members.

Collection Description

The oral histories have been collected on a project basis. Each year we have several fellows who conduct their own research projects and most of them conduct between five and twenty oral histories on specific themes. We have a strong collection of oral histories of NIH scientists and staff who worked with AIDS patients in the 1980s that were conducted by the then-Director of our office and her staff. Also, our collection includes interviews with retiring scientists and high-level administrators that were conducted upon request by particular institutes at NIH.

Material Type

Our oral histories were recorded on cassette tapes which are retained by the office. We have digital video images of one oral history.


No restrictions. The interviews are in the public domain.


Yes, all oral histories are transcribed. We have a selected few available on the web ( , click on "oral histories") but most are available digitally upon request (i.e. they can be emailed as an attachment).