Lives of the Fellows

The earliest Fellowships were awarded (after foundation of the then Faculty of Anaesthetists in 1948) by election, and thus on merit, so the individuals concerned (the ‘Foundation’ Fellows) were central to the development of the specialty in the middle of the 20th century. However, many of them are not as well known as they should be, this being the original reason for developing this collection of biographical material - the ‘Lives of Fellows’. The older Medical Royal Colleges have long published books of such biographies, but paper is an increasingly expensive medium for collecting and publishing information so it was decided that our project would be digital from the start. Since 1948 over 18,000 Fellowships have been awarded so another major decision had to be made – who to start with because even with an electronic system such a number is unmanageable. Faced with a big challenge there is only one answer: start at the beginning and build from there!

The Foundation Fellows

With the inception of the Faculty it was agreed that up to 150 Fellowships could we awarded after nomination to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons by the Board of Faculty. Once that quota had been awarded another ten per year were allowed, meaning that 170 individuals were proud to use the post-nominal FFARCS by the end of 1952. The demonstration that there were sufficient anaesthetists of the standard required for Fellowship was crucial to the establishment of the Faculty and, indeed, of a fully independent specialty. Thus the first focus was to complete biographies of this important group, a landmark achieved early in 2019. A wide range of individuals contributed, and thanks are due to them all for their contributions. These 170 biographies, the ‘Lives’ of the Foundation Fellows, can be accessed here:

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

Fellowships ‘by examination’

Fellowship ‘by election’ on merit continues to be possible, but the vast majority awarded from 1953 onwards were achieved by examination. The evolution of the UK’s definitive examination in anaesthesia is outlined elsewhere, but the changes meant that from 1953 onwards the numbers of Fellows increased by hundreds every year, not the earlier tens. This presents a major challenge, and three strategies for continuing the project have been identified:

1. Individual biography production

It will remain possible for anyone to submit a biography on an individual with whom they have some connection (family member, former colleague, shared interests, etc.), with the emphasis on specific groups:

  • Office Bearers & Members of earlier Faculty Boards & later College Councils;
  • Equivalent individuals from the College’s own Faculties; and
  • Recipients of Awards & Eponymous Lecturers

It is hoped that individuals interested in the history of our specialty will continue to contribute, and the College would be delighted to receive submissions from trainees now in the centre where an individual once worked. Advice from a Senior Fellow or a member of the History of Anaesthesia Society would be helpful, and information can be gleaned from many sources:

  1. National and local newspapers
  2. Medical journals (anaesthetic and general)
  3. Records of national and local societies (anaesthetic and general)
  4. Formal histories of national and local societies
  5. Families of the individuals who may still live in the area
  6. Medical Registers and Directories
  7. Genealogy websites (the College has access to ‘Ancestry.co.uk’ which includes historic Medical Registers)

Warning: Before working on a submission please check with the archivist (archives@rcoa.ac.uk) to make sure that no one else is researching the individual.

2. Linking to other information

Starting with the 1953 cohort, a list of the recipients of Fellowships awarded that year and other years from 1954 onwards will be placed on the website (after appropriate GDPR checks) noting their life dates, main places of work and qualifications (from The Medical Directory), with the reference to any known obituary. The College is fortunate to have received, courtesy of his family, the late Dr. Dickie Fairer’s extensive collection of obituaries, supplemented by others from Dr. Alfred Lee, and these will be invaluable. If a ‘Lives’ form has already been completed there will, as with existing lists, be a link to that document as well.

3. Retired Fellows

We continue to ask retired Fellows still in contact with the College to download the ‘Lives’ form, fill in their own details and return the form as an e-mail attachment to the archivist (archives@rcoa.ac.uk). Guidance on what to include is built into the form, but please seek further information if it is required. We would be delighted to receive a photograph of you (or of something related to a professional interest) to go with the form, but please send that as a separate e-mail attachment rather than inserted in the form. The form will be checked for format etc and then stored in secure electronic format until such time as the information is needed. An alternative is to send us a CV which can be used as the basis for completing a form by a third party. In either case the document will not be released to anyone prior to your death without your clearly stated permission.

Alphabetical lists

The biographies which have been produced so far can also be accessed here, listed alphabetically.