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Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences


Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College Libraries
Smith College


Smith College, Alumnae Gymnasium
Northampton, MA 01063


(413) 585-2970

Fax number

(413) 585-2886

Website URL

The SSC's Web site is
For a list of our medical collections:
For a list of our oral histories:

Contact Person

Sherrill Redmon, Director
Alumnae Gym (Neilson Library)
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Telephone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886


To contact an archivist or ask a reference question:

Access and Services

Interlibrary loan, reference, photocopying, plus duplication of AV materials.


The SSC's oral history collection reflects our focus on the lives and work of US women. We are finishing up the Population and Reproductive Health OH Project which conducted in-depth interviews with 38 male and female physicians, public health advocates and administrators in international family planning. Our Voices of Feminism OH Project contains women who led movements for reproductive health and rights. Another cluster represents women physicians who graduated from Smith College.


Approximately 250 interviews. It is a growing collection. We accept projects on subjects in women's history and we create other projects ourselves. Our rate of growth depends on what is offered and the availability of funding to do our own projects.

Collection Description

Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project 38 audio-taped interviews conducted 2002-2006. Interviewers: Deborah McFarlane and Rebecca Sharpless. Interviews with male and female pioneers in the international birth control movement, population planning, and reproductive health from the 1960s to the present. The project was conceived by Jack Smith of the Centers for Disease Control, Division of Reproductive Health, in the mid 1990s and was implemented after he died by Deborah McFarlane, Professor of Public Health Policy at the University of New Mexico. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded the project. Includes transcriptions. (Partially restricted access - contact the Sophia Smith Collection for more information.)

The Ford Foundation-funded Voices of Feminism OH Project documents 52 contemporary U S women's movement activists from groups previously underrepresented because of their race, class, or sexual orientation. These in-depth interviews were done on videotape in 2005-06. Transcriptions are available. The activism of nine of the narrators focused entirely or partly on women's health issues.

The Survivors: Women in Uniform During the Vietnam War (Nurses) features ten interviews with Vietnam War nurses by P. Lough O'Daly for Smith Scholar Project (1984). Transcripts and audiotapes in the SSC.

The Schlesinger-Rockefeller oral history project documents women in health services, maternal and child care, family planning, marriage counseling, and sex education. (Original oral histories are at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University ).


Material Type

Audio and video


The collections are open to the public. A few interviews contain portions that are closed for varying lengths of time.


Almost all interviews have been transcribed and edited. The Population and Reproductive Health interviews will be described in some detail on the SSC's Web site. A sampling of them will be available in that online location by the end of 2006.