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Wyndham Miles NIH Oral History Collection

Identifier: OH 149


Interviews made by Wyndham Miles of significant figures in the early history and development of NIH.


  • 1962-1973


7.95 Linear Feet (14 boxes)


Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English


Collection is not restricted. Contact the Reference Staff for details regarding access.

Copyright and Re-use Information

No deeds of gift were secured for these interviews. They may, therefore, be subject to the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S.C.). Contact the Reference Staff for information regarding rights.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Historical Note

Shortly after Dr. Wyndham Miles's appointment as the first professional historian of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the early 1960s, Miles undertook a series of interviews with people important to the history of NIH. For the next ten years Miles conducted interviews with current and former NIH employees and with selected other Public Health Service (PHS) officials. He conducted in all at least 76 interviews.

At the time the interviews were conducted the Historian's office did not have the resources to transcribe all the interviews. Instead Dr. Miles prepared detailed abstracts of the contents of each tape. The abstracts were keyed to the counter on his machine. Each abstract was sent to the interviewee for editing and correction, and the corrections were incorporated into a final abstract.

Upon request, Dr. Miles copied the tapes and abstracts. Some researchers had portions of the tapes transcribed and these transcriptions were added to the collection, but the bulk of the tapes remained in abstract form. In 1987 Dr. Miles gave the collection to the National Library of Medicine. Interest in the history of NIH in the 1950s and 1960s had grown over the years, with a concomitant increase in interest in the tapes. As a consequence, the Library began the slow processing of transcribing each of the interviews in order to increase their scholarly usefulness.

Collection Summary

The collection contains 74 interviews with significant figures in the early history and development of the NIH. Each interviewee has at minimum an interview abstract and in most every case, also biographical information such as a curriculum vitae, list of publications, obituary, and clippings from newspapers, NIH publications, or other printed sources. Full transcriptions of interviews exists for many persons. Each entry in the finding aid contains a note as to whether an abstract or transcript exists for that person. Two extra tapes are included: James Shannon's farewell address to NIH; a Wallace P. Rowe Rockefeller Awards speech.

Sound cassettes or reel tapes exist for each interview. All interviews have cassette copies with the exception of Edward Schilling, but not all of the original reel tapes exist. The sound reels are unavailable for public use, in cold vault storage for preservation.

Note should be made that these transcriptions are unedited. They have not been compared to the tape, nor in most cases have they been corrected by the interviewee. Researchers are cautioned, therefore, that they must be used with care and the transcripts should be compared whenever possible to the original tape.


Interviews made by Wyndham Miles of significant figures in the early history and development of NIH.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine


Gift of Wyndham Miles, Acc. 613.


Processed by
John P. Rees
Processing Completed
Encoded by
John P. Rees
Finding Aid to the Wyndham Miles NIH Oral History Collection, 1962-1973
Unverified Partial Draft
John P. Rees
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

8600 Rockville Pike
Bldg 38/1E-21, MSC 3819
Bethesda MD 20894 US
1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656)