RCOG records of the British Congresses of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Scope and Content

RCOG records relating to the management of the British Congresses of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, including papers, programmes and material of the annual British congresses (1924-2004), minute books of the Central Congress Committee (1923-1959), papers and minutes of the Central Congress Committee maintained by officers of the Committee (1949-1980), files from the College Secretary on the Central Congress Committee (1963-1974), papers and correspondence regarding the Scientific Programme and Central Congress Committee (1968-1974), and agenda, minutes and papers from the Congress Committee (2002-2005). There is very little information extant concerning the congresses held from 1920-1922, and papers and proceedings of several congresses have not survived.

Administrative / Biographical History

A congress to discuss obstetrics and gynaecology was held in London in 1920; unfortunately no record has survived of its terms of reference or proceedings. The first official British Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BCOG) was held at Birmingham in 1921 (see note on p. 4 of Central Congress Committee minute book, ref: E6M/1), but records of proceedings do not begin until 1923. The congresses were organised by Congress secretaries of local obstetrical societies; an Executive was appointed at the 1923 Edinburgh Congress, with the power to appoint a Treasurer (see correspondence of William Blair Bell, 1923, concerning British congresses in S10/59).

From 1923 to 1965 British congresses were organised by local committees under the aegis of a Central Congress Committee, which was composed of representatives of different British and Irish obstetrical and gynaecological societies. The central committee was disbanded in 1965, and replaced by a new Congress Committee of the RCOG. The different societies continued to send representatives to serve on the new committee. In 1968 the Congress Committee was renamed the Scientific Programme and Central Congress Committee, and became responsible for the College’s expanded programme of scientific meetings. In 1973 responsibility for scientific meetings passed to the Postgraduate Committee and Scientific Programme was dropped from its title. In 1976 the Central Congress Committee discussed the frequency of its meetings and recommended greater local influence; it restricted future meetings to the year of each Congress.

By the 1980s the local obstetrical and gynaecological societies were responsible for running the annual Congress. The RCOG held a central Congress fund to enable organisers to plan ahead and any profits of the Congress were returned to the central fund. The President of the RCOG was also President of the Congress but otherwise the College had little input into the organisation of the Congress.

In 1984 a new College Congress Committee was established to: allow the College to have a greater input to the scientific and social content; decide future venues; appoint the organising committee and advise on financial arrangements; liaise with College arrangements for other scientific meetings during the year of the Congress; arrange courses near the Congress for overseas delegates. However, it's existence was short-lived, on 22 July 1989 the RCOG Council disbanded the Congress Committee, and agreed that its responsibilities should pass to the Finance and Executive Committee (with one exception: the Postgraduate Committee became responsible for arranging educational courses at the time of the Congress).

In January 2002 a new Congress Committee was re-established, reporting to the Education Board. Its remit was:

To be responsible for the scientific and social programme of the annual Congress

To consider the inclusion of College eponymous lectures and of specialist societies in programme selection

To decide on future venues for Congresses

To monitor the performance of the Professional Congress Organiser

To monitor the budget, income and expenditure for the Congress

A Scientific Programme Sub-Group was established at the first meeting to report to Congress Committee with its recommendations.

2007 marked the 30th British Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which was held in London. It is notable that in the new millenium, a major feature of the 'British' congress is collaboration with specialist societies and International Colleges which include America, Australia, Canada, South Africa and India, and others.

Internally, organisation of congresses was always overseen by the Deputy College Secretary, later known as the Head of Corporate Affairs. From 1974-2002, Ms Caroline Roney served as Congress Organising Secretary/Congress Organiser.

Conditions Governing Access

Permission is required from RCOG senior management via the College Archivist for access to College records less than twenty years old.

Custodial History

The majority of this series is an artificial assemblage of records from various sources relating to different congresses. The material was produced by various bodies and officials, including: the Central Congress Committee; local organising committees and their officers (including ladies' committees, later known as associated members’ committees); and College committees and officers.

Related Material

Related material held at the RCOG may be found at the following references:

RCOG/A8/3 The College Secretary's correspondence and papers relating to British congresses, 1949-1996

RCOG/A13/17 The Deputy College Secretary's papers concerning the 28th Congress at Harrogate, 1994-1998

RCOG/PH8 RCOG Photographs: British Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

S34 Some papers of William Fletcher Shaw relating to congresses, 1926-1929

S10 William Blair Bell's correspondence concerning British congresses, 1923-1931