James A. Shannon buildingOFFICE OF HISTORY

The Office of History, National Institutes of Health exists to advance historical understanding of biomedical research within the NIH and the world. Through preserving records of significant NIH achievements, innovative exhibits, educational programs, and training researchers from multiple disciplines, the Office of History explores the past to enhance present understanding of the health sciences and the NIH.


Archivist Barbara Harkins and Curator Michele Lyons received NIH Office of the Director Awards for their role in preserving the NIH’s history.  Ms. Harkins won a second award for her work on the NIH Research Records Working Group (RRWG).

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently mounted an extensive online exhibit featuring Dr. Joseph J. Kinyoun. In 1887, Dr. Joseph James Kinyoun founded the Hygienic Laboratory, from which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) evolved. This online exhibit explores the story of Joe Kinyoun, the acknowledged Father of the NIH, and the crucible of social, scientific, and political forces during his time that were associated with the dawn of the microbial era in the United States. A videocast narrated by Dr. Anthony Fauci introduces the exhibit at  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/whoweare/history/josephjkinyoun.

The Office of History has recently received the oral history transcript of Peter Piot, M.D., Ph.D. The interview was conducted by Dr. Victoria Harden, founding director of the Office of History. Dr. Piot became the founding director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, and led it through the massive task of addressing AIDS throughout the world.  Under his direction, UNAIDS became the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS and spearheaded UN reform by bringing together ten different UN agencies in the effort. The transcript will soon be available for download on the AIDS in Their Own Words website.


Daft, Floyd S.

Interview date: October 14, 1964

Gallin, John
Interview date: June 23, 1993

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is the nation’s largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research. The Office of Hisory holds the visitor's sign-in register with signatures dating from 1957 through 1970. This document provides a glimpse into the various scientists, researchers, government officials and individuals that visited the Clinical Center from the around the world. Efforts to preserve this historic document are planned.

Visit the NIH Library's Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nihlibrary/collections/72157626011426522/ and view some of the images from the Office of History photograph collections.


Eric Boyle, Quack Medicine: A History of Combating Health Fraud in Twentieth-Century America, Praeger, 2013

Joseph November, Biomedical Computing : Digitizing Life in the United States. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012

Victoria A. Harden, AIDS at 30: A History. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, Inc., 2012

Laura Stark, Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.


Conferences and Symposia



Fellowships and grants


Requests for images

The Office of History holds several photograph collections. Many can be found within Search Our Collections but many are uncataloged. To request images for use in presentations or publications please contact the Office of History.
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Office of History and Stetten Museum| Bldg 60 | Room 262 | National Institutes of Health | Bethesda, MD 20814-1460
Phone: 301.496.6610 | Email: history@nih.gov

Last updated: 7 February 2013
First published: 2 February 2005
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Permanent: Dynamic Content