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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Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia publication was exhausting the remaining supply of papers, those that had been scheduled for delivery at the canceled 1942 Congress.


In October, while distracted by plans to incorporate the IARS, the concerned IARS Board of Governors (and Editors) proposed creating a research fund to help generate new articles for Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia to publish.


From 1944 to 1947, Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia reduced issue size by 16 pages, down to an average 44 pages total.



The death of Emanuel Klaus in March of 1945 ushered in the administration of IARS Executive Secretary Rolland Whitacre, the third Clevelander in that role to advocate physician-only anesthesia. During the next 3 years, Whitacre would repopulate the aging Editorial Board of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia. Ever respectful of geography, Whitacre preserved Board positions for Canadians, Buffalonians, and US Capital area residents.


In October, when Dr. Whitacre’s election to IARS Executive Secretary was formalized, Dr. Dittrick was receiving curatorial honors. The CMLA formally dedicated its museum as the “Howard Dittrick Museum of Historical Medicine.”


By early 1946, Assistant Editor Laurette McMechan was openly soliciting manuscripts in Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia, and Directing Editor Dr. Dittrick was pleading for articles on military anesthesia from physicians returning from service overseas.


The IARS Congress was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 

In 1948, Dr. Seldon was invited to join the Board of Trustees of the IARS, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The other members of the board at this time were Mrs. Laurette McMechan and Drs. Rolland Whitacre, Clarence Durshordwe, William Friend, Harold Griffith, and Morris Nicholson.


Although her participation in the affairs of the Society had diminished in the early 1950s, Mrs. McMechan continued as honorary Assistant Editor of the Journal with an annual stipend from the IARS Board of Trustees until her death in 1970.


IARS held its Congress in London, September 3-7, in joint session with the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.

The International Anaesthesiology Congress was held in Paris from September 20-22, 1951. At the anesthesia meeting organized by French surgeons, discussions took place about the advisability of forming a worldwide organization to assist countries in which anesthesia was not yet reasonably advanced. The idea received support, an organizing committee was formed, and Dr. Harold Griffith of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, then also the Chairman of the IARS Board of Trustees, was made its Chairman.


IARS held another international anesthesia congress in Paris, attended by IARS officers, during which the creation of a new world-wide anesthesia organization was proposed. Harold Griffith (at the time Chair of the Board of Trustees of the IARS) chaired the committee established to explore the issue.

The IARS was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in the state of Ohio, to “foster progress and research in all phases of anesthesia.” The articles of incorporation charged the IARS Board of Trustees with all the responsibilities and authorities of the Society, including the management of its Journal.  The title of the IARS Board members changed with incorporation from Governor to Trustee.

Initially, Board members were appointed without term limits. Later, the limit was set at 24 and then 18 years. 


Virginia Apgar, MD, from the Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Anesthesia Service, The Presbyterian Hospital, presented a new method of evaluating newborns, the Apgar Score, before the 27th Annual Congress of Anesthetists, Joint Meeting of the International Anesthesia Research Society and the International College of Anesthetists, Virginia Beach, Va., September 22-25.


The IARS Congress was held in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 

IARS underwrote the expenses of an expanded committee meeting about establishing an international anesthesia organization, during which it was decided to proceed with the establishment of the WFSA. When invited to join the WFSA, the apolitical IARS declined in favor of the ASA as the United States representative. However, the ASA refused the invitation.


Dr. Alex Goldblat of Brussels, a member of the committee, invited the members of the committee to establish an international anesthesia organization to meet in Brussels, Belgium, in June. The Council for International Organization of Medical Societies donated some funds, and the International Anesthesia Research Society of the United States was exceedingly generous in its financial support.

The national organizations representing the specialty reported that there were about 7,000 practicing anesthesiologists and also confirmed interest in the development of a new international organization.  The IARS represented the US on the planning committee since the ASA elected to remain an “Official Observer” rather than become involved at that point. Steps to establish the WFSA began, as did planning for the 1955 Congress.


Virginia Apgar, MD, from the Department of Anesthesiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Anesthesia Service, The Presbyterian Hospital, proposed a new method of evaluating newborns, the Apgar Score, in the July-August edition of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia.


Dr. Dittrick passed away at age 77.

Dr. Harry Seldon volunteered for and became Directing Journal Editor of the Journal. He had been a member of the IARS Board since approximately 1949.

Dr. Seldon moved the editorial office to the Anesthesia section at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

His editorship of Current Researches in Anesthesia and Analgesia was accomplished in addition to his full-time clinical responsibilities at Mayo Clinic. Harry was active in the American Medical Writers’ Association, an organization from which he gleaned many new ideas for his meticulous process of rebuilding the Journal.

Laurette McMechan’s appointment as Assistant Editor continued, as did the role of the IARS Board as the Editorial Board of the Journal.


The original organizing committee to create an international anesthesia committee and Dr. C. J. Durshordwe of Buffalo, New York, a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Anesthesia Research Society; Dr. Rudolf Frey of Heidelberg, Germany; Dr. L. A. Boer of Leiden, the Netherlands; and Dr. Francis F. Foldes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, held another meeting in Scheveningen in June 1954 in preparation for the 1955 congress. Dr. Harold R. Griffith presided at the meeting.


The IARS Congress was omitted in favor of the first WFSA meeting.

The IARS provided logistical and financial assistance in the establishment of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA).

Harold Griffith (Chair of the Board of Trustees at the IARS) was elected as the first WFSA President.


The International Anesthesia Research Society published the Proceedings of the First World Congress under the editorship of Dr. T. H. Seldon of Rochester, Minnesota.

The first World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) was held in Scheveningen, in the Netherlands, in September 5 to 10, with Dr. Griffith as Congress Chairman. Forty societies were represented by approximately 2000 delegates. The IARS underwrote the publication of the proceedings of the meeting, which were mailed to all IARS members and the 2,000 attendees. Harry Seldon arranged translation of the papers and provided the extensive editorial effort required.


Laurette McMechan moved the “loving cup” trophy from her home in Cleveland to Los Angeles where she retired in 1956.

The WFSA Constitution, which was legally registered in the Netherlands in 1956, described the aim of the Federation as: “To make available the highest standard of anaesthesia to all peoples of the world”.  McMechan’s vision of an international organization of anesthesiologists had been fulfilled, 15 years after his death.

The 1956 Congress of Anesthetists, held in Miami Beach, Florida, honored Laurette McMechan. An observer noted, “At the meeting in Florida, she was a very proper, spirited, gracious, cordial, interested, command-type lady”, despite her age. She was appointed Honorary Assistant Editor to recognize her many contributions to the IARS and its journal.


After the Phoenix meeting in 1957, Laurette McMechan moved to Los Angeles.

A new business office for the society opened in Cleveland, and the editorial office moved to Rochester, Minnesota.

To permit more appropriate referencing, in 1957 the IARS Board of Trustees approved the request of the Editor to change the name of the Journal to Anesthesia and Analgesia…Current Researches.

The Journal was enlarged from its historic pocket size to a 7 X 10 inch page that would be more useful for advertising copy and could carry more text. The pages were divided into 2 columns to allow easier reading, a photograph and brief biographical sketch of each paper’s authors were added, each issue contained a “capsule review” in which the important points of most articles were defined. The covers retained their traditional mustard hue, but article titles appeared in color for the first time. Color highlights were added, and new content features were introduced. These included short notes about new drugs and equipment, historical vignettes and the inclusion of photographs and biographical sketches of first authors. 

The Editorial Board was expanded to include non-IARS Board Trustee members.


By the time of the second World Congress in Toronto, Canada, the WFSA society membership criteria had been established, with each component national society required to be representative of all anesthetic practitioners in its own country.  The IARS Board recognized and accepted that in the United States this role belonged to the ASA, not the IARS. The ASA, after its initial reluctance to become involved in 1955, became a strong and loyal supporter of the WFSA.