Information relating to the origins and early years of the Faculty, and subsequent development of the College

One of the consequences of the evolution of the Faculty of Anaesthetists into the Royal College was that, apart from the minutes of a few committee meetings, little in the way of documentation of the early years was available. However, efforts have been made recently to reverse this situation, and the archive of documents has grown considerably. It now comprises the following:

  1. Minute entries from the Royal College of Surgeons
    The finding that the minutes of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of England include reports from the Board of Faculty recording (from 1948 onwards) major matters of long-term significance was a great advance. An approach was made to the Surgeons’ President and consent was obtained for us to scan the sections of their minutes that relate to the Faculty (and later the College within a College) so that we have our own digital copies. Indeed, we have material from those minutes and relevant to anaesthesia from as early as 1929.
  2. Books of historical relevance
    These books contain information on the Faculty or organisations of importance to its establishment and development, including the following:

    Boulton TB. The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland 1932–1992 and the Development of the Specialty of Anaesthesia. London: Association of Anaesthetists 1999 (ISBN 0 9536639 0 6).

    Young TM. A short history of the Section of Anaesthetics of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Society of Anaesthetists. London: Royal Society of Medicine.

    Blandy JP, Lumley JSP (Eds). The Royal College of Surgeons of England: 200 Years of History at the Millennium. London: Royal College of Surgeons of England and Blackwell Science Ltd 2000 (ISBN 0 632 05396 8).

  3. Photographs
    There is quite an extensive collection of photographs covering the period since 1948, but few were labeled with date, event or subjects so a project to reverse this situation has been started. It is hoped to scan the collection shortly and put it on-line in the hope that the senior Fellows can help.
  4. Personal Collections
    Many Fellows have their own collections and it is hoped that they will be prepared to share them with the College. Three individuals have started this process for us: First, Dr Aileen Adams is letting us have material relating to her time as Dean; Second, Dr J G Fairer has a unique collection of mortality information on the specialty, backed up by associated documents relating to the early years of the Faculty, and he is donating copies; Third, Professor Nigel Roberts has provided the memoirs of his father, Dr F W (Bobby) Roberts, 93rd Fellow of the original Faculty (please click here to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). Others may have documents which could be added to the collection so let us know what you have – anything relating to the early years in particular will be considered. Another article of interest is that of Dr R P Harbord: Personal View 1 – Not the English Patient
  5. British Journal of Anaesthesia
    The journal has been digitized and is available on-line, but some non-editorial material may not be picked up by searching and can only be accessed by browsing the paper copy.
  6. Biographical material
    In 1988 an early attempt was made to develop a paper based Lives of Fellows project, and some 800 Fellows completed the form.
  7. Paintings
    There are also paintings of John Snow, Thomas Clover, the first Board of Faculty and the past Deans and Presidents.

As noted elsewhere, this collection of material is, along with the Lives of Fellows project part of a broad attempt to collect information which might be of use to a future historian of the Faculty/College. It is not intended that the Archive be generally available, but anyone wishing to access it for a specific study should send an application (an outline initially) to the College Archivist ( for consideration by the Heritage Committee.