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Project captures voices of science

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A new British Library project is capturing the voices, memories and experiences of hundreds of British scientists. An Oral History of British Science, led by National Life Stories, is the first project of its kind in Britain and will gather 200 audio-visual interviews with the British scientists who have led the world in scientific innovation. The recordings and transcripts will be made available free of charge at the British Library as a research resource.

An Oral History of British Science will capture the culture of science in Britain since the Second World War through 200 audio interviews, each averaging 10-15 hours in length, complemented by some shorter video recordings to document key events, instruments and locations. It will include interviews with both the well-known names of British science and lesser-heard and neglected voices such as technicians and women scientists, to ensure their memories are preserved for historians of the future.

The archive is organised around four themes to reflect the character and emerging issues of science in the twentieth century. The themes are: Made in Britain; A Changing Planet; The Factory of Life [so far unfunded]; and Cosmologies [so far unfunded].

'British scientists were behind many of the key scientific and technological developments that make daily media headlines – such as climate change, the internet and genetics - but little is known of the real personal stories behind these advances that have transformed our world. This will be a major new public resource of in-depth interviews at the British Library for understanding contemporary science. We hope it will enthuse the next generation of scientists,' commented Rob Perks, curator of oral history at the British Library.