An oral history is an interview that records an individual’s personal recollections of the past and historical events. Using this method of gathering, preserving, and interpreting ensures that the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants are added to the historical record.
Oral histories are conducted by a well prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their subsequent discussion in an audio or video format. Afterwards, the recording of the interview is transcribed to create a transcript and added to the holdings of a library or archives where it should be cataloged to make it discoverable by future users.
Did you know that the Medical Center Archives houses a robust oral history collection of over 350 interviews? These oral histories date to as early as the 1960s and 1970s, although the oral history program became more active under Dr. James Gifford in the 1990s. These oral history interviews document the careers of Duke personnel, as well as advancements in biomedical and health sciences. The collection includes significant interviews with Eugene A. Stead, William G. Anlyan, Wilburt Cornell Davison, Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, Jay Arena, Rebecca Buckley, Catherine Wilfert, Robert Lefkowitz, Wilhelm Delano Meriwether, Ivan Brown, Jean Spaulding, MaryAnn E. Black, and many others. Major issues include women in medicine, African-Americans in medicine, physician assistants, nursing, the Duke Cardiovascular Databank, Durham Regional Hospital, and individual achievements of Duke personnel.
The interviews are available in many formats including but not limited to CDs, DVDs, audio cassette tapes, videotapes, reel-to-reel audio tapes, and digital files such as WAV and MP3.
Select Collections Listing to view the Archives holdings, which includes oral histories, personal papers, and institutional records.
For any questions, contact the Archives staff.
This blog was contributed by Archives Technical Services Head Lucy Waldrop.