Science Voices: Scientists speak about science and themselves


The aim of this conference is to explore the creation and use of a number of projects which bring science and scientists to historians and the public through scientists' own vibrant personal voices and testimony.

Follow this link to listen to podcasts recorded during the conference.

Projects to be discussed include:

• A History of the Royal Society in the 20th Century (Principal Investigator, Dr Peter Collins, Director, Centre for History of Science, Royal Society)

• Biographical Memoirs of the Royal Society (Editor, Professor Emeritus Tom Meade FRS, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, for Royal Society Publishing)

• Museum Lives: An Oral History of the Natural History Museum (Principal Investigator, Professor Brian Cathcart, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University: AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship with the Centre for Arts and Humanities Research at the Natural History Museum)

• Oral History of British Science (British Library in association with the Science Museum)

Themes which we hope will be explored in this conference are:

• Testimony, a spectrum of practices: from oral history techniques to witness seminar to collegial obituary (scientists speak about themselves and each other)

• Where science practice and oral history converge: scientific knowledge transfer, lab training and the eyewitness account

• History of oral transmission of knowledge in science as a grounding for oral histories of science

• Framing oral histories of science: constructing a coherent intellectual framework for interview subject selection and project design

• When science speaks: the tension between training in objectivity and speaking subjective experience – can oral history interviews engender self-reflexivity in scientists?

• Institutions, laboratories, collections: distinguishing between individual, collective and corporate enunciations in oral history of science

• Video interviews versus audio interviews pro and con: the specifics of science practice in labs and with instruments, materials and specimens

• Techniques: interviewing, recording, transcribing, editing specifically for history of science

• Making use of oral history in history and epistemology of science: examples of historiographic practice employing oral history records

• Relations between archival formats (interviews with scientists, scientific records, and personal papers): issues for researchers and for knowledge management professionals

• Oral history digitisation, storage and dissemination: metadata, name authorities, text-mining, discovery resources: how can people find what they need? Registration for the conference is now open. Registration fees are £40 (full)/£30 (reduced) and include a wine reception on 12 May and lunch on 13 May. Please contact Felicity Henderson ( with any queries.

Download the conference programme here.

Download a registration form here.

Science Voices: Scientists speak about science and themselves 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

Events coming up

  • The interaction of fire and mankind 14 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Professor Claire Belcher and Dr Chris Roos
  • The interaction of fire and mankind - further discussion 16 September 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Dr Claire Belcher and Professor Chris Roos
  • Open House Weekend 2015 19 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London The Royal Society's building will be open to the public on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2015.

For more events please see the events diary.