AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Gynaecological Visiting Society

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1538 S26
Held at: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Gynaecological Visiting Society
Date(s): 1911-1992
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 4 boxes, 7 volumes, 2 trunks
Name of creator(s): Gynaecological Visiting Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

the Gynaecological Visiting Society (GVS) first met on 24th April 1911. It was the inspiration of William Blair-Bell, Assistant Physician at Liverpool Royal Infirmary. Its aims as set out in its first meeting (ref: S26/1/1) were:

The encouragement and demonstration of scientific research, and the study of methods employed in gynaecological duties.

Two centres to be visited each year in the Spring and Autumn.

A brief record of the meetings to be kept in a book belonging to the Society.

Although other gynaecological societies existed at this time, Blair-Bell felt there was a need for a peripatetic group that could discuss and disseminate information with fellow professionals. The annual visits allowed members to see other hospital departments and view at first hand their colleagues' research activities. With this cross-fertilisation of ideas it was hoped that the appalling statistics of maternal mortality could be tackled.

At a GVS meeting on the 2nd February 1925 several members of the society discussed the founding of a College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The College came into existence in 1929, with Blair-Bell as President. The GVS has continued to work closely with the College and today senior officers of the now Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology are also members of the GVS.

For further information see The Gynaecological Visiting Society 1911-1917 by John Peel, Dorset Press, 1992 (copy at S26/9/17).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Gynaecological Visiting Society (GVS), 1911-1992, comprising record books of meetings, 1911-1985, correspondence 1925-1983, including correspondence between W Blair-Bell, C Berkeley, E Holland, R J Johnstone, A A Gemmell, J W Burns and L Murray concerning the establishment of a Junior Gynaecological Society, and material relating to the founding of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 1925-1935, newsletters and other printed material, 1912-1992 and some artefacts.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Most of the material has fallen logically into separate series; S26/5 and S26/9, however, are composite in nature. Within each series the records are listed chronologically; undated items are in all cases listed at the end of each series. Dates have been transcribed as they appear on the items; consequently there are some anomalies where the full date has not been recorded. Wherever possible the names of the correspondents have been listed in order of appearance; however in some cases they were too numerous to list.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for research only with the prior permission of the Gynaecological Visiting Society. Please contact the College Archivist & Records Manager for more information

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is vested in the Convenor of the GVS.

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:

the society, being peripatetic in nature, had no obvious repository for the records of meetings. The records were originally kept in two boxes, one rosewood with brass fittings and nameplate (now at S26/11/1), the other a tin trunk, inscribed GVS (now destroyed).

Originally the boxes were kept at The Royal Society of Medicine, in the custody of its Council, under the strict understanding they should not be viewed by anyone other than a member of the GVS. In 1945 a member of the GVS discovered that these access restrictions were being broken. The records were consequently moved to the Royal College of Obstetricians, where the access restrictions were honoured. See S26/3/3 for further details.

The rosewood box was kept in the Presidents office at the RCOG until in 1994 it was removed to the College Archives. It contained the record books of the GVS which are now at S26/1. The tin trunk containing all the remaining records of the society was kept in the Library of the RCOG. It was transferred to the Archives in 1998. In the same year the Convenor of the GVS gave permission to the RCOG Archivist to list and box the material contained in the boxes and to make it available for research.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

The RCOG Archives holds loose photographs of the society, which have been removed for safe-keeping from S26 to PH7 (see separate list); album of photographs of the GVS in Dublin, Aberdeen and Paris in the 1940s, presented to the Archives by Professor S L Jeffcoate (Ref: PH20/1); black and white film showing some members of the GVS with Blair-Bell (Ref: R5/1); minute book of the Executive Committee of the proposed College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which evolved from the GVS (Ref: A1M/1); Presidents' papers relating to the GVS, dated 1969 (Ref: A4/13/20).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
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

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"