Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association
Promoting the highest standards of anaesthetic practice in the care of mother and baby
Reliable information from doctors, midwives & mothers on
pain relief & anaesthesia choices for your baby’s birth

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Welcome Trust/OAA PhD Studentship

Richard Barnett was awarded a PhD for his thesis 'Obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia in England and Wales, 1945-1975' by the University of London in 2007. View Wellcome Library catalogue details.

He lectured on:
'The History of Obstetric Anaesthesia: The Reports on Confidential Enquiries and the Making of Obstetric Anaesthesia'
at the OAA's Annual Meeting in Jersey on 22 May 2009. Click on the link to listen to his lecture.

An article entitled "'The future of the midwife depends on her power to relieve pain”. The rise and fall of the Analgesia in Childbirth Bill (1949) was published in IJOA (2007).


The History of Obstetric Anaesthesia Working Group has been set up to collect, preserve and archive material relating to the provision of obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia. It is hoped to build up archives containing information not just on the early days of the OAA, which was founded in 1969, but on the provision of anaesthetic and analgesic care in the days before the OAA was founded. It is proposed by the OAA Committee that these items will be catalogued and stored in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust.

Anyone having items of interest, as shown below, should contact the OAA Secretariat.

What records for archiving should be collected?

Archives that describe the History of an Association are collected retrospectively (e.g. through OAA Officers and individual collections) and continued as an ongoing project (e.g. mainly through Officers recognising the value of archiving all information that is generated each year). They include:

  • Minutes of meetings
  • Information about meetings: annual, teaching, well recognised speakers (e.g. International), International meetings held/attended by officers, other events (e.g. joint programmes)
  • Publications e.g. scientific, public, Pencil-point newsletter
  • Publicity e.g. posters, newspaper cuttings, media interviews, website
  • Membership lists
  • Equipment (large or small)
  • Rare books on the history of obstetric anaesthesia
  • Photographs
  • Records regarding sponsorship

Archived OAA Publications

Guidelines for Obstetric Anaesthesia Services (1998) Joint publication with AAGBI

Recommended Minimum Standards for Obstetric Anaesthesia Services (1995)

Information for Mothers: Pain Relief & Caesarean Section booklets 

Archives Links

There are several websites that have items of interest to obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia, which we have listed below. if you know of any others, please contact Jake Alderson.

Website of the Northern Schools of Anaesthesia. Well laid out, with an interesting Museum section

Website of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Anaesthesia Department. There is a museum section devoted to obstetrics, and other sections include needles etc. Click on “Anaesthesia”, then “Museum”. Clicking on pictures highlights them and gives captions.

Website of the RCOG with historical resources and an archive section.

Website of Institutions within London and the M25 area holding archives, including Universities, Royal Colleges, Hospitals and the Welcome Library.

Any comments about these links to Dr Jake Alderson

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