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BELL, William Blair- (1871-1936): papers deposited by the Datnow family

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1538 S10
Held at: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
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Full title: BELL, William Blair- (1871-1936): papers deposited by the Datnow family
Date(s): 1909-1938
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 10 boxes; 9 folders
Name of creator(s): Bell | William Blair- | 1871-1936 | President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists


Administrative/Biographical history:

William Blair-Bell (1871-1936) was co-founder (with William Fletcher Shaw) of the College and its first President. The second son of William and Helen Bell, he was born in Wallasey in 1871 and educated at Rossall School, King's College London and King's College Hospital. In 1905 he left general practice in Wallasey and was appointed to the post of Assistant Consultant Gynaecologist to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary. In 1918 he became senior surgeon and in 1921 was appointed to the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Liverpool University, a position he held until 1931. In 1929 he married his cousin, Florence.

Blair-Bell was President of the Obstetric Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the North of England Gynaecological Society and the Liverpool Medical Institution. In 1911 he founded the Gynaecological Visiting Society (GVS). He was co-founder of the College in 1929 and presented the College with its first headquarters at 58 Queen Anne Street. He established the money for the William Blair-Bell memorial lectures and for other research projects. He was President of the College from its inception until 1935, the year before his death.

Morris Myer Datnow (1901-1962), MB, ChB (Liverpool) 1924, MD 1928, FRCS (Ed) 1932, FRCOG 1939, was born in South Africa and trained at Cape Town University. He completed his medical training in Liverpool, where he became a member of the Liverpool university staff in 1925. There he served successively as Ethel Boyce research fellow, Samuels memorial scholar, demonstrator and sub-curator of the museum and lecturer in clinical obstetrics and gynaecology. He was appointed to the staff of the Women's Hospital, Liverpool, the Liverpool Maternity Hospital and the Royal Southern Hospital. He was married with two children. Morris Datnow became closely associated with William Blair-Bell in the research work which was going on at that time in the department, and was one of the team undertaking basic research into the nature of cancer and the place of chemotherapy in its treatment. He was to become a close friend of Blair-Bell's and was elected to deliver the third Blair-Bell Memorial Lecture in 1940 at the RCOG.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of William Blair-Bell, 1909-1938, relating to a range of professional subjects, including Blair-Bell's cancer research work (particularly his use of lead) and the wider organisation of cancer research; the Liverpool Medical Research Organisation; the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the British Empire Publishing Company; the British Congresses of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BCOG); and Blair-Bell's nursing home and practice in Rodney Street. It also contains papers and correspondence concerning Eardiston, Blair-Bell's country estate near Oswestry; Rossall School, Preston, which Blair-Bell attended as a pupil and on whose council he later served; his wife's memorial in the church of St Chad's Haughton, Shropshire; and other personal matters. Only a small amount of material is concerned with the founding of the BCOG. Some pieces contain confidential medical records about individual patients.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

the records are arranged in the following broad categories:

S1/1-6: Miscellaneous personal correspondence on a wide range of topics.

S1/7-12: Correspondence, research papers, and reports concerned mainly with treatment for cancer.

S1/13-62: Correspondence mainly from practitioners referring patients or from patients with some replies from Blair-Bell.

Conditions governing access:

Other than confidential case files, the records are open to bona fide students for the purposes of serious research as per section 3 of Deed of Agreement 31/5/88.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: vested in the estate of William Blair-Bell. Copyright expires in 2007.

Finding aids:

A general index to the files listed in the catalogue of the Archives of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is maintained in the College Archives; refer to the College Archivist.

Archival Information

Archival history:

This collection was deposited at the RCOG by Edward Datnow, on behalf of the M M Datnow will trust, in 1988. It consists of correspondence, papers and printed material left by William Blair-Bell in his consulting rooms in Rodney Street, Liverpool, and found when the rooms were taken over by Morris Datnow (Edward Datnow's father) in 1936. Papers of Morris Datnow which were deposited erroneously with the collection have been returned to the Datnow family, together with any duplicates or ephemera from the collection itself, with the exception of a report concerning the Liverpool Medical Research Organisation (1937), which may be found at S10/9. The College membership papers of Morris Datnow, originally found with the Blair-Bell papers in S10 were deposited in the College by the Datnow trustees in 1990, and now form S21.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

RCOG Archives holds information relating to negotiations with Edward Datnow and the trustees leading to the deposit of the collection, and details of other records held by the Datnow will trust (Refs: A10/1-4 and B6/6); a copy of the agreement between the College and the trustees (Ref: A10/4); a copy of the College archivist's report on the deposit, with a list of the records compiled in 1988 (Ref: A10/14).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Biographical details of the individuals who have presented material to the College and/or comprise the subject of the records, have been compiled using information in administrative files and, where relevant, consulting Sir John Peel's book The Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 1929-1969, Whitefriars Press Ltd, 1975. Compiled by Clare Cowling, Archivist, RCOG.

Rules or conventions:
National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997; ISAD(G), Second Edition, 2000.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2000

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