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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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: the lesbians aren't into dustbins

Monday, November 4, 2019

This week's selection comes from Lucia Cavorsi, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. The British Library Sound Archive holds the most exhaustive oral history collection relating to LGBTQ+ lives in the UK: the Hall-Carpenter Oral History Project. Set...

Recording of the week: turning down Vincent van Gogh’s sunflowers

Monday, October 21, 2019

This week's selection comes from Camille Johnston, Oral History Assistant Archivist. In his life story recording the artist Michael Rothenstein related a remarkable story about an encounter between his teacher A. S. Hartrick and the artist Vincent van Gogh. Michael...

Cable Street and after: memories of antifascism

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dr Joshua Cohen uses the oral histories in the CPGB Biographical Project to look at the motivations of communists of Jewish heritage.

Ernö Goldfinger at Open House 2019

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In the run up to Open House London 2019, Dr Niamh Dillon highlights the work of architect Ernö Goldfinger.

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