British Library digitises history of physiotherapy

The stories and experiences of those who shaped modern physiotherapy, enhancing its professionalism, independence and innovation in areas such as education, hydrotherapy and paediatrics, are now available as audio files.

The interviews with 95 veterans were recorded as part of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s oral history project, launched on 26 November.

Some interviewees recall training at the end of the Second World War at the dawn of the NHS, others spoke of changes in the early 1970s when physiotherapists became autonomous professionals. Interviewees included Rosemary Lane who set up a school of physiotherapy in Aberdeen and pioneered the use of horses in therapy. The launch is particularly poignant as Ms Lane died in September aged 93.

Other notables include Joan Piercy who set up the first physiotherapy degree syllabus in England, Sophie Levitt who pioneered work with children with cerebral palsy and hydrotherapy pioneer Alison Skinner.

In all, 15 Society members were trained to carry out the interviews, including Barbara Richardson, chair of the oral history project sub-committee.

She said 300 pages of transcript were obtained. Donated photographs, documents and other artefacts are also available in digital format. ‘I hope that it will be a valuable resource for students interested in the history of the profession.’

If you want to listen to the recordings at CSP’s London office, please contact Linda Griffiths, the CSP librarian, ( to arrange a convenient time to visit.

Interview summaries and details can also be found at (enter C1586 in the search box)

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