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Oral History Collection

Identifier: OH

Scope and Contents

The Oral History Collection contains interviews conducted with 200 scientists within the fields of molecular biology, genetics, and the life sciences between 1990 and 2018. The interviewees provide first-hand accounts of their experiences in the fields of modern biology, such as neuroscience, cancer, genetics, plant genetics, genomics, biotechnology and others, from the 1940s through the 2000s. The collection contains audio and video recordings, as well as transcripts of interviews.

The interviews offer a glimpse into the life of prominent scientists. The interviews discuss scientists' early school days and beginning interests in science to what or who made them choose to go into science. They also include reminiscences about their research and major discoveries, experiences of women in science, the character and life of leading scientists like Barbara McClintock and James D. Watson, the history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the nature of the double-helix discovery, the ethics of the Human Genome Project and biotechnology.

Many scientists interviewed for this project have either carried out their research or attended scientific meetings at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Their recollections document not only the history of molecular biology and genetics the but also the laboratory's role in this history. The collection comprises of Hi8 8mm tapes; mini-DV; DVCAM and VHS audio cassette tapes. Most of the interviews from this collection have been transcribed. Interviews which have been digitized can be found at the Oral History Collection page.

The collection is organized into two series: Talking Science Interviews and Presentations. Talking Science Interviews consist of individual scientists, while the Presentations series include clips of oral history interviews that were used for a specific meeting or event.

  1. Talking Science Interviews, 1990-2017
  2. Presentations, 2016-2019


  • Creation: 1990 - 2019

Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available online: Select tapes have been digitized thanks to support from CLIR Recordings at Risk Grant awarded in 2021, these tapes are available for research online via our Oral History Website and in person at CSHL Archives. Please contact CSHL Archives with any questions regarding availability.

Conditions Governing Use

Videos in this collection are released under the CC0 1.0 license.

Metadata content of this collection, created by CSHL Library & Archives, is released under the CC BY-NC license.


200 Cassettes

Language of Materials



The collection is arrranged alphabetically by name.


CSHL Oral History Collection
In Progress
Interviews with the scientific leaders of molecular biology
Tom Adams. Updated March 2022 by Em Longan.
Language of description
Script of description
Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Recordings at Risk Grant, 2021. Select tapes in this collection have been digitized and are available for research via our Oral History Website and in person at CSHL Archives with the support of this grant.

Revision Statements

  • 15 March 2022: General line edits to Scope and Contents note, subjects added, date formats changed, notes (Preferred Citation and Abstract), and links to Oral History Collection site added to finding aid by Em Longan.

Repository Details

Part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Archives Repository

Library & Archives
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
One Bungtown Rd
Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724 USA