Medical Sciences Video Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The Medical Sciences Video Archive of the Royal College of Physicians and Oxford Brookes University is a notable collection of videotaped biographical interviews with over 130 important figures in clinical medicine and science from the United Kingdom and Australia. The Archive includes many important areas in the historical development of medical science and the collection is particularly rich in: anaesthesia, epidemiology, immunology, medical genetics, pharmacology and respiratory medicine. Other subjects covered include: neurophysiology, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, nutrition, occupational medicine, transplant surgery and x-ray crystallography. There are also a number of interviews relating to policy areas such as health services administration, health education and health promotion, and science funding. Among the people interviewed since 1985 are: Dr Denis Burkitt, Professor Sir Roy Calne, Sir Richard Doll, Sir James Gowans, Professor Dorothy Hodgkin, Sir Andrew Huxley, Lord Phillips of Ellesmere, Dame Cicely Saunders and Professor Maurice Wilkins.

Administrative / Biographical History

The collection was founded in 1985 when Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) and the Royal College of Physicians entered into a collaborative agreement to record on videotape interviews with Fellows of the College and distinguished medical scientists. Those conducting the interviews have included Dr Max Blythe (principal interviewer), a Principal Lecturer and then Reader in the School of Biological and Molecular Sciences at the University, Sir Gordon Wolstenholme, who was at that time Harveian Librarian at the College and responsible for the historical resources of the College, Lord Walton of Detchant, and Sir Christopher Booth, who succeeded Sir Gordon Wolstenholme as Harveian Librarian. Most of the interviews were filmed and edited in the University's television studio, under the technical direction of David Dillon, the production officer in the Audio Visual Unit. The project has established links with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Australian Academy of Science, the Nuffield Trust, the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Royal College of Anaesthetists; and in 1995 the Wellcome Trust awarded a grant to fund the development of the collection for two and a half years.

Conditions Governing Access

Interviews are available for viewing, by prior arrangement, in the Oxford Brookes Headington Library. Transcripts are available for some interviews. Please email us to arrange a visit or if you have any queries:

Other Finding Aids

Please use the index, available at, to search for items in this collection by interviewee name or medical speciality.

Alternative Form Available

Copies of the collection on videotape are also available at the Medical Film and Video Library at the Wellcome Trust.

Archivist's Note

Collection level description by Eleanor Possart, 2008.