Oral history collection

Oral history collection

Oral history recordings at the RCP give us a personal viewpoint – individuals’ spoken memories of their work in the field of medicine from the 1930s to the present day.

Through both audio and video interviews, physicians shed light on their excitement over developments in their specialities. They also discuss the exhaustion of their junior days, the stresses of taking the MRCP exams and the successes and challenges of their clinical work. 

There are two main collections, the Medical Sciences Video Archive (MSVA), recorded in partnership with Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) between 1985 and 2002, and the Voices of Medicine project, established by the Library, Archive and Museum department at the RCP, in 2015. 

Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome, Oxford Brookes University digitised the video interviews of all 130 participants in the MSVA. Researchers can access these online through RADAR, the Brookes digital repository

Audio recordings from the Voices of Medicine project are available via our library catalogue, along with summaries and transcripts.

John Bennett in bed with glandular fever, 1958
John Bennett in bed with glandular fever, 1958.
Sir Colin Berry, GOS Christmas show
Sir Colin Berry (bottom far right), Great Ormond Street Hospital Christmas show
Ewa Raglan
Dr Ewa Raglan (far right) with local doctor friends, 1971

Interviews in both collections follow the life stories of participants, delving into their early lives, school and university days, clinical training, research and medical careers. They reflect on the changes they have experienced in their medical lives from both a clinical and social point of view. The MSVA includes particularly rich content on anaesthesia, epidemiology, immunology, medical genetics, pharmacology and respiratory medicine, while the Voices of Medicine project has a specific focus on medical education and the workplace changes experienced by physicians in the National Health Service.

Listen to audio extracts on some of these topics as well as accessing the full interviews through the links below. 

We are very grateful to everyone who has agreed to record their stories. Special thanks also to Julia Barnes, Eric Beck, Lynda Finn, Mike Gibson, Mark Rake, Michael de Swiet, John Turner, David Young and Val Wood who have provided invaluable ongoing support, and to all the volunteers who helped to document and catalogue the recordings. 

For more information about the project or for information on participating in any capacity please contact Sarah Lowry.