“Science and the subject’s perspective” explores how people who served as healthy research subjects in medicine and the social sciences understood their contemporary experiences. A collection of interviews with former research participants will be available through the project’s online oral history archive in 2014. As of January 2012, fifty oral histories and supplementary documents have been collected for the digital archive, which is under construction with BePress and Wesleyan University.
See a sample oral history collection, which includes transcript text, interview audio, historical photos, and captioned video: Janet Peck Stevens.
As a point of departure, this research agenda accepts the possibility that people thought of the places and the purposes of research in multiple ways. The settings of research included other activities as well. Labs, fields, and clinics were also classrooms, residences, and work places. It is unclear that research was the single, or even the primary, experience that anchored research participants’ day-to-day lives. Most broadly, the project explores questions of who has, can, and should verbalize people’s experiences. For example, the oral histories and document collection opens resources to consider: How do former research participants articulate their experiences in the present day, and how does that compare to how they understood their experiences at the time?
The stories of “normal control” research subjects and the studies in which they participated at the US National Institutes of Health during the Cold War decades will be collected in a book tentatively titled The Life of the Clinic.