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National Life Stories

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 oral history collections, which stretch back to the beginning of the 20th century, National Life Stories' recordings form a unique and invaluable record of people’s lives in Britain today.

As an independent charitable trust within the British Library, National Life Stories' key focus and expertise has been oral history fieldwork. Over the past two decades it has initiated a series of innovative interviewing projects funded almost entirely from sponsorship, charitable and individual donations.

Each collection is archived at the British Library and comprises recorded in-depth interviews of a high standard, plus content summaries and transcripts to assist users. Each individual life story interview is several hours long, covering family background, childhood, education, work, leisure and later life. Information about the collections is provided via the Sound Archive's catalogue and listeners can come into the British Library to listen to recordings. A growing number of interviews are being digitised for remote web use through the British Library Sounds website.

National Life Stories projects

Sound Archive catalogue reference numbers are in brackets after the title of the project.

Further information

Contact us

Oral History
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

T +44 (0)20 7412 7405 (Rob Perks, Lead Curator, Oral History  / Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7406 (Mary Stewart, Curator, Oral History / Deputy Director of National Life Stories)
T +44 (0)20 7412 7404 (Elspeth Millar, Archivist, Oral History)

PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.