This digital humanities project (2022–26) aims to bring together numerous oral history repositories that can already be found online in a manner that makes them more visible and accessible to historians of biomedicine. These repositories are diverse and range from large institutional archives to small and thematically focused collections. In order to make these rich sources useful to historians, “Commoning Biomedicine” will develop an online platform to enable scholars to search within and across repositories. This platform will support mixed-methods approaches that combine digital humanities expertise with qualitative historical research to ask new questions with oral historical sources.
The project is organized around three main outputs: Code, Collaborations, and Conversations. For Code, we are developing open source website infrastructure for the networking of oral history repositories. As part of our Collaborations we are building alliances between the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and other institutions to help ensure the harmonization of oral history metadata and reusability of digital tools. We host Conversations, a set of mini-workshops around the topics of oral history research methods and repository management. The “Commoning Biomedicine” project is committed to supporting a diversity of perspectives on the history of biomedicine; if you are interested in working with us please get in touch with Alfred Freeborn.
The Commoning Biomedicine Platform was launched on July 19, 2023, and currently links seven collections of oral histories related to biomedicine, which include a total of 1170 transcripts. We are working continuously to add more.