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Resources for family historians at the RCOG

Was your ancestor an obstetrician, gynaecologist or midwife? Published and unpublished material held by the RCOG Library and Archive could help you find out more about them and their work.

Examples of the type of information held are shown below, and access is available to College Fellows and Members, as well as bone fide researchers, by appointment only. Please note that not all references will be applicable to every researcher, and access restrictions apply to more recent unpublished records.

You can also read our information leaflet about midwifery records (PDF, 734 kb).

Published sources of information

You’ll find basic details for all medical practitioners within the medical registers. Most large public libraries and many specialist libraries hold copies of printed volumes (1859–2004), and the RCOG Library has various editions. You can find digitised registers (1859–1959) at Ancestry, in addition to a last name research tool and details of the 1881 UK census.

The Wellcome Library has a complete set of registers, and the Wellcome Library’s website also contains a guide to biographical research.

At the RCOG, you’ll find:

  • Obituaries from newspapers or medical journals, including the British Medical Journal (published since 1840) or the College’s journal, BJOG (published since 1902)
  • Transactions of obstetrical societies of Edinburgh (1868–1939) and London (1859–1907)
  • Press cuttings and interviews
  • Books or articles published by obstetricians/gynaecologists (some presentation copies signed by the author)
  • Books on the history of the specialty, including some individual hospitals or geographical regions
  • Biographies

Unpublished sources of information

  • Index of Fellows, Members and Diplomates of the College, 1929–1998: giving contact details at the time of membership and date of membership [Archive Reference: RCOG/A12/7]
  • Oath books signed by Fellows and Members, 1932–1967 [Archive Reference: RCOG/A12/4]
  • Declaration forms signed at admission ceremonies, 1973–2009 [Archive Reference: RCOG/A11]
  • Admission ceremony programmes from the 1980s [Archive Reference: RCOG/A12/9-10]
  • MRCOG pass files, 1967–2007: varying quantity of information from number of times the exam was taken to evidence of training [Archive Reference: RCOG/A4]
  • Correspondence relating to elevation to Fellowship, 1930–1997 [Archive Reference: RCOG/A12/14]
  • Sample case notes submitted for the MRCOG exam, 1940–1954 [Archive Reference: RCOG/B1/4]
  • Sample MRCOG and DRCOG results and assessors’ reports, 1934–1950 [Archive Reference: RCOG/B1/3]
  • Case notes found in personal papers, such as those of Sir Stanley Clayton, 1962–1979 and K V Bailey, 1933, together with case books for the British Lying-in Hospital, Endell Street, London, 1753–1780 [Archive Reference: S66] and in the papers of Robert Barnes, 1838–1891 [Archive Reference: S91]
  • Hospital Recognition Committee files, 1937–2003: reporting on obstetric and gynaecological posts in hospitals in the UK and overseas

Resources relating to midwives

  • Employment register maintained by the Royal College of Midwives following the Midwives Act of 1902, which could be consulted by the public who were looking for recommended and trained care [Archive Reference: RCM/E3/2].
  • Registers of cases and minutes of the Benevolent Fund Committee of the Royal College of Midwives, relating to providing financial aid to members in times of hardship [Archive Reference: RCM/C3].
  • Minutes of the different branches and midwives associations affiliated with the Royal College of Midwives, such as the London Branch Midwives Association 1909–1913, the Lancaster Branch Midwives Association 1949–1982 and the East Sussex Midwives Association 1924–1964, which includes the names of members who worked locally for the advancement of the midwifery profession [Archive Reference: RCM/G]
  • Case registers, notebooks and certificates found among the personal papers of midwives who practised across the country, providing an insight into childbirth and how the role of midwives has changed during the 20th century [Archive Reference: RCMS].
  • Midwives roll of the Central Midwives Board, including name, address and registration number of midwives [Printed copy available in the Library]; the papers of the Central Midwives Board are held at the National Archives
  • Nursing Notes, journal published by the Royal College of Midwives, including lists of midwives who passed the exams of the Central Midwives Board during the first half of the 20th century [Printed copies available in the Library]

Other medical specialties

Other medical royal colleges also hold genealogical resources:

Elsewhere on the site

History of the RCOG
Information about the history of the College and the development of the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology
About the College
Information about the RCOG’s current work to improve women’s health care in the UK and worldwide