- List of Illustrations and Tables
- List of Contributors
- Medicine and Health in the Graeco-Roman World
- Medieval Medicine
- Early Modern Medicine
- Health and Medicine in the Enlightenment
- Medicine and Modernity
- Contemporary History of Medicine and Health
- Global and Local Histories of Medicine: Interpretative Challenges and Future Possibilities
- Chinese Medicine
- Medicine in Islam and Islamic Medicine
- Medicine in Western Europe
- History of Medicine in Eastern Europe, Including Russia
- Science and Medicine in the United States of America
- Public Health and Medicine in Latin America
- History of Medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Medicine and Colonialism in South Asia since 1500
- History of Medicine in Australia and New Zealand
- Childhood and Adolescence
- Medicine and Old Age
- Historical Demography and Epidemiology: The Meta-Narrative Challenge
- Chronic Illness and Disease History
- Public Health
- The Political Economy of Health Care in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
- Health, Work, and Environment: A Hippocratic Turn in Medical History
- History of Science and Medicine
- Women, Health, and Medicine
- Health and Sexuality
- Medicine and the Mind
- Medical Ethics and the Law
- Medicine and Species: One Medicine, One History?
- Histories of Heterodoxy
- Oral Testimony and the History of Medicine
- Medical Film and Television: An Alternative Path to the Cultures of Biomedicine
Abstract and Keywords
This article surveys the historiographical trends in medical history that have fostered the rise in the use of oral history. It discusses different approaches that serve to bring individual experiences and human agents into the historical frame, humanizing our understanding of the national and international institutions, professions, governments, and organizations that shape medical history. Oral history reveals the clinicians behind changing medical treatments and the personal experiences behind patient populations or epidemiological trends. This article argues, however, that oral history needs to do more; rather, it should aim to chart and explore the relationship between the structures of medicine and human experience. Furthermore, it discusses that oral testimony does not document the past, but is an individual's interpretation of it; historians therefore need to interrogate it as such, exploring why people remember in certain ways, what is forgotten or misremembered, and what such memories mean for the present.
Kate Fisher is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter and currently Director of the Centre for Medical History. She is the author of two books drawing upon oral testimony, Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain, 1918–1960 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) and, with Simon Szreter, Sex before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in Britain, 1918–1963 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
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