Voices of Science to showcase 75 years of scientific innovation

Posted by er134 at Nov 29, 2013 12:11 PM |
Dr Sally Horrocks from the University of Leicester helps to record the lives of British scientists in full for the first time

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 29 November 2013

Dr Sally Horrocks from the University of Leicester’s School of History has been involved in a major oral history project to gather the life stories of British scientists.

The collaborative work has culminated in the launch by the British Library of a new website, ‘Voices of Science’ that showcases the results of this project.

The website draws from a National Life Stories programme ‘An Oral History of British Science’, and features interviews with over 100 leading UK scientists and engineers, telling the stories of some of the most remarkable scientific and engineering discoveries of the past century as well as the personal stories of each individual.

Among the interviewees featured on the website is University of Leicester graduate and marine geophysicist Carol Williams.

Dr Horrocks has been senior academic consultant to the project since 2011 and helped to develop the website, taking responsibility for much of the written content as well as advising on the selection of audio and video content.

Dr Horrocks said: “‘Voices of Science’ puts the people back into this history of science and technology by allowing you to find out about some of the most important discoveries and innovations made by British scientists and engineers over the last 75 years through the voices of those who were directly involved.

“It also explores the lives of scientists and engineers, allowing them to reveal in their own words what inspired them to become scientists and engineers, what motivated them and how life in the laboratory has changed within living memory.”

Remarkably few scientists have previously been interviewed at length about their life and work, and the Oral History of British Science programme remedies that absence while preserving their memories for posterity to be used by researchers now and in the future. The project will open up the processes of science through the words of those involved and includes scientists in a national collection alongside writers and artists, recognising their important position in national life.

With interviews ranging across multiple disciplines, the archive seeks to represent a cross-section of scientific activity, including lesser-heard voices as well as key players in the British scientific landscape over the last century.

Over 1000 hours of unedited interviews, each lasting 10-15 hours, are being made available in full on the British Library’s Sounds website, while the ‘Voices of Science’ site offers curated access to audio and video highlights from the interviews, as well as photographs, biographies and other contextual information.

For more information, visit the website at: http://www.bl.uk/voices-of-science/

Ends

Notes to Editors:

For more information contact Dr Sally Horrocks via smh4@le.ac.uk

Voices of Science is led by National Life Stories at the British Library in association with the Science Museum, and with support from the Arcadia Fund. Dr Sally Horrocks from Leicester University has acted as Senior Academic Consultant, Dr Thomas Lean was Project Interviewer for the ‘Made in Britain’ strand, and Dr Paul Merchant for the ‘Changing Planet’ strand. All are available for interview.

The Oral History of British Science Advisory Committee comprises: Professor Jon Agar (UCL), Dr Tilly Blyth (Science Museum), Lord Alec Broers, Georgina Ferry (chair), Professor Dame Julia Higgins (Imperial College), Dr Maja Kominko (Arcadia Fund), Professor Sir Harry Kroto, John Lynch OBE, Professor Chris Rapley CBE (UCL), and Dr Simone Turchetti (Manchester University). Lord Rees of Ludlow acts as an Advisor to National Life Stories. The project has so far received funding from the Arcadia Fund, The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, The Royal Society, the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers, and individuals donors.

The Voices of Science website can be found online at www.bl.uk/voices-of-science. For further information on the British Library’s oral history collections, please visit www.bl.uk/oralhistory

National Life Stories (formerly the National Life Stories Collection) was established in 1987 and its mission is: 'To record first-hand experiences of as wide a cross-section of society as possible, to preserve the recordings, to make them publicly available and encourage their use'. Alongside the British Library’s other oral history collections, which stretch back to the beginning of the twentieth century, National Life Stories' recordings form a unique and invaluable record of people’s lives in Britain today and in the recent past: http://www.bl.uk/nls.

Arcadia is the charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Since its inception in 2001, Arcadia has awarded grants in excess of $250 million.  Arcadia works to protect endangered culture and nature. For more information please see http://www.arcadiafund.org.uk/

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