Our Fantastic Find for Friday this week comes from the papers of the Women’s Visiting Gynaecological Club held here in the RCOG Archive (Reference S108). More specifically, it is this photograph, taken in Manchester in 1937, which prompted me to share this find with the heritage blog! As is the usual nature of our ‘fantastic finds’, I came across the photograph in the course of doing research for something totally unrelated to the blog, this time looking for photographs of the amazing female Fellows of the College who shared their medical skills actively during the First World War. What I found in this photograph was not only new images of Foundation Fellows Dame Louise McIlroy, Margaret Fairlie and Louise Martindale, but also Dame Hilda Lloyd, the only female President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and other ladies for whom we have never been able to find an image. (Photograph reproduced by kind permission of the WVGC)
The Women’s Visiting Gynaecological Club was founded in 1936 by female Fellows of the British College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, spearheaded by Dame Hilda Lloyd and Alice Bloomfield, in response to the two other visiting clubs, the Gynaecological Visiting Society and the Gynaecological Club, which were closed to women. At this time there were only 12 women holding the FRCOG who were working in the UK, and 9 of these came together for the first WVGC meeting held in Manchester in 1937. The original regulations restricted membership to only Fellows of the RCOG guided by the principle of having a member in each important centre in England, Scotland and Wales, with not more than half the members representing London, and that they should be in clinical obstetric and gynaecological practice. Meetings were held annually and included a Club dinner.
The records were donated to the RCOG by Sheila Duncan FRCOG in January 2009 on behalf of the WVGC, and consist of a history of the club, minutes of meetings from 1951, and photographs of members, of which this is just one.