International Anesthesia Research Society and Anesthesia & Analgesia Historical Timeline

Through this historical timeline, we invite you to reflect on the foundation, some of the key moments and people who made the International Anesthesia Research Society and Anesthesia & Analgesia what it is today.

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NARS becomes IARS through the persevering efforts of Francis McMechan and his wife Laurette McMechan. IARS founders envisioned support of research and education as primary objectives.

The society adopted its official seal exemplifying the founding purpose of IARS. The seal, designed by Dr. Francis H. McMechan and under the authority of the IARS Board of Governors, uses 1922 as the official start date (the year of the first journal issue). The lady represents the figure of medical science; the light is the search for knowledge; the leaf symbolizes truth; and the owl in front of the globe personifies wisdom. The seal was printed in purple, the special purple ink that Dr. McMechan used for the majority of his writing. The year 1922 appears deliberate. The records now available do not further explain the seeming discrepancy. The year 1922 continues to be used as the official IARS start date.

The Board of Governors served as the editorial board of the journal under the direction of McMechan until his death in 1939.

Dr. Francis Mechan served as the first editor of the Journal up until his death in 1939.

During his time with IARS, Dr. McMechan encouraged awarding medallions, scrolls and plaques as well as loving cup trophies at meetings and congresses. Until 1937, silver loving cups were awarded to a wide array of pioneer physician anesthetists, including Arthur Guedel, James Gwathmey, Isabella Herb, Wesley Bourne, E. I. McKesson, Henry Dorr, William Long, and John Evans.


The first issue of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia appeared in August 1922 as a bimonthly publication of the National Anesthesia Research Society (NARS), the organizational precursor (1919-1925) of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS).

Dr. McMechan initiated publication of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia.

The Editorial Foreword of the first issue of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, in August 1922, included the modest statement:  “With this issue the former Bulletin becomes a regular Journal to carry on the organization and educational campaign of the National Anesthesia Research Society.  As in the past, the Journal will print papers from the Transactions of the several Associations of Anesthetists, special and selected articles of pertinent interest, as well as abstracts from the current literature of anesthesia and analgesia.” A one-year subscription to the journal cost $3.00, and single copies 50 cents.


The first NARS Congress was held at the Hotel Deshler, Columbus, Ohio, October 30 to November 1. Aside from the two leading conferences on the Teaching of Anesthesia and the Development of Hospital Anesthetic Service, there were Special Sessions devoted to Anesthesia in Oral Surgery and Dentistry, as well as in Relation to Cardiology, Pressure and Rebreathing.

McMechan held a national meeting called the Congress of Anesthetists. Initially, this was held during the weeklong Annual Meeting of the AMA. However, during the 1930s, it was occasionally held during the American College of Surgeons’ yearly assembly. Equally important, during these meetings, a formal dinner was held with anesthesiologists and spouses attending in black tie, a tradition the IARS maintained until 2011.

The McMechans


The British Journal of Anaesthesia started publication, making Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia (and its lineage of renamed descendants; Anesthesia and Analgesia. . .Current Researches and the current Anesthesia & Analgesia) the oldest dedicated publication in the specialty.


The IARS recognized outstanding research by presentation of a “Scroll of Recognition for Meritorious Research in Anesthesia and Analgesia.” The IARS presented the first such award to Dennis Jackson. E McKesson (President), W Jones (Vice President) and F McMechan (Editor – Executive Secretary) signed the scroll.


In 1925, and again in 1940, Dr. Wesley Bourne was president of the International Anesthesia Research Society.

In 1925, Francis McMechan was listed as the sole Editor and Executive Secretary of the sponsoring organization, the National Anesthesia Research Society, now known as the IARS. Laurette McMechan supported him behind the scenes, managing, editing, and retyping manuscripts as well as handling the logistical aspects of publishing and mailing the journal.

During a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, NARS was officially reorganized as IARS, with a new constitution that excluded industry representatives. McMechan became the Secretary General of the revised organization as well as the Editor of its journal.

The Board of Governors of the IARS became the owners and governing body of the journal. Dr. McMechan continued as the Journal’s first editor until his death in 1939.

Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia became the official organ of NARS’ successor, the current IARS.

The cover page of the initial issue of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia lists the six-member Board of Governors of the NARS and its 30-member Research Committee. Membership was open to physicians, dentists, and researchers holding doctor of philosophy degrees. Dr. McMechan was Executive Secretary of the Society, Chairman of its Research Committee, and Editor of its journal.

The IARS awarded two scrolls of the “Scroll of Recognition for Meritorious Research in Anesthesia and Analgesia.”


The IARS officially began on the 8th of February 1925, by resolution of the “Professional Board of Governors (pro tem)” of the IARS, as the successor of the NARS.

The IARS adopted the mission of the NARS, changing only the society name and society membership criteria (by excluding industry representatives). The IARS concurrently became the Publisher of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, the first major anesthesia medical journal in the world, a journal started by the NARS in 1922. IARS membership was restricted to physicians, dentists and researchers with advanced degrees.


The announcement in the April 1925 issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia, Current Researches, states 1925 as the official start date for the IARS, succeeding the NARS. 


The AAA became part of the Association of Anesthetists of the United States and Canada, a group that eventually blended into the IARS early in the years during World War II.

Dr. Wesley Bourne received a silver Loving Cup by the International Anesthesia Research Society.

The IARS Congress was held in Nottingham, UK.


Dr. Mechan invited German pioneers in anesthesiology to attend the 1928 IARS Congress in Minneapolis. At the meeting, McMechan handed scrolls of recognition to the editors of the 2 recently published German anesthesia journals, Der Schmertz and Narkose und Anaesthesie, including Dr. Helmut Schmidt.


The listing of the IARS Board of Governors and the Honorary Officers and Advisory Board, in the 1930 Directory of Anesthetists (IARS Archives, Wood Library-Museum), reveals the international reach of the IARS, under McMechan’s influence.  While 7 of 8 Governors were from the US, and one from Canada, the honorary officers were from (order and spelling as in Directory): United States, Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, Brazil, Cuba, England, Czecho-Slovakia, Scotland, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, and the Irish Free State – further evidence of McMechan’s international vision!

During the 1930s, Laurette McMechan acted as Assistant Editor, assuming greater responsibilities as illness increasingly disabled McMechan.

The 1930 Directory of Anesthetists (accessed in the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology) lists first the Associated Anesthetists of the United States and Canada, followed by the IARS and eight other societies based in the United States, plus one in Canada and three in the United Kingdom.

When invited in the late 1930s to join the ASA’s collaborative efforts with the AMA in the formation of the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the IARS declined, responding that they already provided certification and that it should be “entirely separate from any other larger medical or surgical organization and free from its domination or control.”  Newly developed specialty certification processes in Canada and the United Kingdom made the F.I.C.A. qualification irrelevant in those countries as well.


The Fourteenth Annual Congress of Anesthetists at the Hotel Chelsea, Atlantic City, NJ, took place over three and a half days from June 10 to 14, 1935. The Congress was opened by the founder of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS), Dr. Francis McMechan (1879–1939).

At the Congress dinner in the Music Salon, Hotel Chelsea, 3 “Silver Plaques of Recognition” were  presented. One was awarded to Sir Francis Shipway (1875–1968) of London, one to Dr. Gilbert Brown (1883–1960), President of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, and the third to “the Anesthetic Staff of the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, and the Baker Institute of Research for the splendid text on ‘Practical Anaesthesia.’” The 2 Australian plaques were accepted by Dr. Gilbert Troup on behalf of the recipients, packed carefully into his luggage and carried halfway around the world. Gilbert Brown’s plaque is now stored in the Australian Society of Anaesthetists archives. The plaque awarded to the staff of the Alfred Hospital and Baker Institute, apart from a brief mention in Gwen Wilson’s history of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, had not been heard of since.


Dr. McMechan conceived the International Federation of Anesthetists as an organization that would certify specialists in anesthesia in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The plans were made in 1936 and requirements were published in 1941. However, when the certification process for anesthesia specialists was implemented, it was the International College of Anesthetists (not the Federation) that was the certifying entity. Medical and dental anesthesia specialists received the designation FICA – Fellow of the International College of Anesthetists. The IARS Board of Governors served as the review committee of applications for certification.



The IARS offered the “loving cup” trophy to its founders, Francis and Laurette McMechan. Because Frank was so ill, the McMechans could not attend the Chicago IARS meeting in October of 1937 at which the loving cup was presented. Lost after Mrs. McMechan’s death in 1970, the trophy cup resurfaced in 2011 in New Mexico and was offered to IARS Executive Director Thomas Cooper. When the vendor simultaneously put the cup up for sale on the international medical antiques market, George Bause, MD, MPH, Honorary Curator for the Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, purchased the trophy in order to “reunite” it with the IARS Archives that he had hand-carried from his hometown in Cleveland to the Wood Library-Museum.

Francis and Laurette were jointly recognized for their many achievements with the presentation of a loving cup trophy with the following inscriptions: “To F. Hoeffer McMechan, M.A., M.D., F.I.C.A. Editor, Secretary-General and Laurette van Varseveld McMechan Associate Editor, Secretary and hostess. In loving appreciation of devoted services and splendid achievements for the organization, economics, research, practice, teaching, journalism and fellowship of the specialty of anesthesia. For the world conquest of human pain in behalf of suffering humanity. Presented by the International Anesthesia Research Society and International College of Anesthetists. Sixteenth annual Congress of Anesthetists. 1937.”


Dr. Francis McMechan passed away due to illness.

In the years after McMechan’s death on June 26, 1939, Clarence J. Durshordwe spent 20 years, from 1946 to 1966, as a member of the board of the IARS and the editorial board of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, carrying forth McMechan’s vision for organized anesthesia.


With both Laurette McMechan’s and Emanuel Klaus’ hearty endorsements, Howard Dittrick was appointed by September 1939 as Directing Editor of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia.

A published summary of the 24 September 1939 meeting of the IARS, noted that the Board had considered suggestions that the IARS should “amalgamate with other societies”. In response, the Board approved an amendment to the IARS Constitution and Bylaws, requiring consultation with the membership via a mail vote for any proposal to change the status of the IARS as an organization. A change of IARS status required a two-thirds affirmative vote from at least two-thirds of the members.  The IARS Board participated in initial discussions with an ASA committee but then withdrew, ultimately maintaining two societies, the one A&A journal, and two annual meetings. The journal Anesthesiology was not published until after McMechan’s death due to an agreement between the societies that there would be no second journal as long as he was the editor.

John Henry Evans was the Chair of the Board of Governors at that time. He was the senior partner to Clarence Durshordwe.


At a meeting of the IARS Board of Governors on October 16, the Board voted to “constitute themselves as a Board of Editors of the Publication of this Society Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia reserving to themselves the power to review all manuscripts and copy to be published in the magazine.”


On 1 of July 1939, the Board appointed Board member Emanuel Klaus to the acting positions of Executive Secretary and Editor, and Laurette McMechan as Assistant Executive-Secretary-Editor, the positions she had held before her husband’s death.

Assisted by Laurette McMechan and the IARS Governors, Emanuel Klaus, a member of the IARS Board of Governors, assumed editorial responsibility for the final three issues of 1939.



The January – February 1940 issue announced Dr. Howard Dittrick’s appointment as Directing Editor of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, reporting to the IARS Board. 

Dr. Howard Dittrick’s editorial debut was in the first issue (January– February) of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia.

From 1940 to 1954, the only yellow cover of the journal was Dr. Dittrick’s inaugural January–February 1940 issue. After that, the journal was tan during Dr. Dittrick’s entire term as Directing Editor.

The first Journal issue for 1940 also confirmed the continuing role of Laurette McMechan as Assistant Editor and continued the IARS Board of Governors as the Editorial Board.

Laurette McMechan became the major force in the maintenance of the publication.

To the credit of the editorial team, the Journal continued bimonthly publication throughout the 1940s, but the numbers of society members and subscribers declined. 


The publication of papers presented at the 1941 Congress of Anesthetists would be stretched out for publication in Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia from 1942 to 1943.


Fellows of the College of Anesthetists in good standing with the International Anesthesia Research Society who sent the date of their certification in the International College of Anesthetists and $8.00 were mailed a Plaque of Approval with an enlargement of International College of Anesthetists Seal by parcel post. The plaque included a cast gold bronze 7-inch medallion mounted on ebony wood base in 9 inches in diameter.

December 7:

At the Congress of Anesthetists in Boston in November 1941, the IARS elected Cleveland’s Rolland Whitacre, MD, to its Board of Governors. The Board met next in Rocky River, Ohio, on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941. At this meeting, Dr. Whitacre boldly proposed “that the Board of Governors constitute themselves as the Editorial Board of the publication of the Society.” The Board also voted “to separate the expense of . . . the salary of the Editor” as $75 monthly from Laurette’s salary. After breaking for lunch, the IARS Governors resumed the meeting, unaware that at 12:55 pm EST the bombing had begun at Pearl Harbor. After emerging from their meeting at 4:50 pm, the Governors learned about the surprise attacks in Hawaii.


In tandem with the Clinical Congress of Surgeons, the 1942 Congress of Anesthetists was first shifted from “bombable” Los Angeles to Chicago and then canceled altogether.


Launching an appeal for more research, presumably to increase submissions to Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, IARS Governor Charles Wells editorialized in September of 1942, “Anesthesia and Medical Research.”

Once it was clear that so many members had been mobilized overseas for the war effort for World War II, the IARS Congresses from 1942 to 1945 (a major source of papers published in the Journal) were canceled.