Membership & Fellowship: A Short History of ACOG’s History Fellowship

A Malmström vacuum extractor from
the 1950s. Photos courtesy of the ACOG Resource Center

How well do you know the history of our specialty? How has the theory and practice of ob-gyn changed over the past 50, 100, or even 500 years? Are all departments of ob-gyn in the United States really descended from the “Big Four” at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine?

Since 1986, the J. Bay Jacobs, MD, Library for the History of Obstetrics and Gynecology in America, a special collection of the Resource Center, has promoted the Fellowship in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology to encourage a growing number of Fellows and PhD historians to research these and many other historical topics concerning aspects of women’s health.

The fellowship has had an interesting history. (See a full listing of history fellows from 1986 through 2014.) So many excellent applications were received in the early years that in 1991, it was decided to add a second history fellowship. Double fellowships continued through 2001, when it was scaled back to one recipient and renamed the ACOG Fellowship in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology. It was suspended for two years in 2009 due to the financial climate, but returned in 2011. The fellowship has been going strong ever since, with excellent research topics being submitted every year by College Fellows and academic historians. Some recent topics included emergency contraception, cesarean section, midwifery, prenatal healthcare, endometriosis, the rise of obstetrics, and the gendering of addiction.

The 2015 History Fellowship

The recipient of the 2015 ACOG Fellowship in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology is Rachel Chan Seay, MD, whose research project is “An Historical Review of the Management of Postpartum Hemorrhage.” Her research plans to review the history of the management of postpartum hemorrhage in the United States. It will include developmental milestones related to the past and current understanding of the pathophysiology of PPH, related medical devices and maneuvers, medications, surgical interventions and techniques, and the development of current PPH clinical guidelines and management protocols.

Dr. Seay completed her undergraduate studies in 2002 at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and graduated from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus School of Medicine in 2009. She completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University Medical Center, where she is currently an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Ob-Gyn. During the second half of 2013 and early 2014, Dr. Seay worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, Africa.


The 2016 Fellowship

Washington, DC, is an ideal location for the fellowship, as the recipient has easy access to ACOG’s Resource Center, as well as the National Library of Medicine, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and several other professional healthcare associations’ collections. These monthlong fellowships have been filled with exciting discoveries in these world-class collections.

Forceps from the 18th and 19th centuries. Photos courtesy of the ACOG Resource Center

Preference is given to College Fellows, but other qualified researchers are also considered. The recipient is required to disseminate the results of his or her research through publication and/or presentation. Traditionally, the presentation has been given at the Annual Meeting, although several recipients have also presented their research at other professional meetings, such as the American Association for the History of Medicine’s annual meeting. Several noteworthy books have their origins in the history fellowship.

The award carries a stipend of $5,000 to be used to defray expenses while spending a month in the ACOG Resource Center collections and other medical/historical collections in the Washington, DC, area to perform research into some area of American obstetric-gynecologic history. Applications for the 2016 award will be accepted until October 1, 2015.


For further information, contact:

Special Collections Librarian
Resource Center
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 Twelfth Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 863-2518, (202) 484-1595 (fax)
The application form and additional information is also posted on,

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188
Mailing Address: PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20024-9998