Our collections of audio and video interviews provide insights into many aspects of UK personal memory, identity and experience.

Collection guides

Listening and Viewing Service box

Listening and Viewing Service

The Listening and Viewing Service provides free onsite public access to our collection of recorded sound and video.

Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.

We can also provide access to archived BBC Radio broadcasts.

Mon - Thu: 10.00 - 20.00
Fri - Sat: 10.00 - 17.00
Sun and English Public Holidays: closed

You will need a Reader Pass. Over 200,000 digital tracks are available for instant access through our catalogue without an appointment, though you may have to make an appointment to listen to some sounds.

British Library Sounds offers free online access to 80,000 selections from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings.

T: +44 (0)20 7412 7418
E: Listening@bl.uk

Blog posts

Recording of the week: painting people blue in Hull

Monday, July 30, 2018

This week's selection comes from Holly Gilbert, Cataloguer of Digital Multimedia Collections. Husband and wife, Kārlis and Shirley, talk about the magical experience of being part of photographer Spencer Tunick's 'Sea of Hull' installation in which 3,200 people volunteered to...

Dangerous Oral Histories: Risks, Responsibilities and Rewards

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sue Bishop summarises the 2018 OHS/OHNI Dangerous Oral Histories conference.

Fulton at 50: how civil service reform affected government scientists

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On 26 June 1968 Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced to the Commons the publication of the Fulton Report, the outcome of the first major inquiry into the civil service for more than 100 years. Photo credit: Contemporary Record, 2 (2)...

Recording of the week: "There was always the smell" - inter-generational memories of the steel industry

Monday, June 25, 2018

This week's selection comes from Charlie Morgan, Oral History Archive & Administrative Assistant. The last time I wrote a recording of the week post it was about the artist Michael Rothenstein’s memories of growing up in the Cotswolds (C466/02). For...

More blog posts

Oral history projects

National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship

This award of £5,000 allows the Goodison Fellow a period of sustained engagement with the oral history collections in order to share the results in public domain.

National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

Artists’ lives and work in their own words

National Life Stories: Architects' Lives

Documenting the life and work of British architects and their associates

National Life Stories: Authors' Lives

In-depth interviews with leading authors working in Britain today

All projects

Projects

National Life Stories: Crafts Lives

Memories and experiences of independent designer makers working in British studio crafts

National Life Stories: An Oral History of the Electricity Supply Industry in the UK

Life stories of people involved in the industry's development and operation in Britain

National Life Stories: Legal Lives

In-depth interviews with people involved in the legal and criminal justice system

National Life Stories: An Oral History of British Science

An Oral History of British Science is a national collection of in-depth, life story audio interviews with scientists and engineers.

All projects

Library experts

Rob Perks

Lead Curator, Oral History & Director of National Life Stories

Mary Stewart

Curator, Oral History, and Deputy Director of National Life Stories

Oral History case studies

…To create an archive which will be part of the Library is really a privilege…

Dvora is a collaborative PhD student exploring the social world of Crown Court clerks from the 1970s onwards.

…I ranged at will through more than fifty interviews – still just a fraction of the total…

Michael Bird explored the Artists' Lives collection to produce an exhibition and a forthcoming book

…The Fellowship allowed us to dedicate ourselves to researching the food recordings and finding different audiences for them…

Polly Russell and Barley Blyton are food writers and academics. They were 2015 Goodison Fellows at National Life Stories where they focused on the 'Food: From Source to Salespoint' oral history interviews.

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Oral History Society

Promotes the collection, preservation and use of recorded memories