Blair-Bell 1: To begin……

A new project for 2012 is to undertake the complete cataloguing and arrangement of the papers of Professor William Blair-Bell (1871 – 1936), co-founder of the British College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1929 and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Liverpool.

The impetus to this project came from the generous donation of several boxes of unsorted material from the family of Morris Datnow, a Fellow of the RCOG who had worked under Professor Blair-Bell in Liverpool. This collection was an addition to an earlier collection of material transferred to the College by the Datnow family which related significantly to Blair-Bell’s research work in Liverpool on cancer treatments. There are two other collections of papers currently in the College archive relating to Blair-Bell; one collection of papers was bought at auction by the College in 1986, and the other collection is comprised of the College records kept during Blair-Bell’s presidency. Descriptions to these papers have been created to title and date level only, and a large proportion of papers have yet to be arranged and catalogued.

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.

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