History and heritage
RANZCOG was formed on 23 October 1998, with the amalgamation of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG) and the Royal New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RNZCOG).
Two Colleges unite
The Royal Australian College
The Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was formally established in August 1978. In 1980 the prefix ‘Royal’ was acquired and the College became the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG). The new College replaced the former Australian Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in London.
The Royal New Zealand College
The New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was formally established in January 1982. The prefix ‘Royal’ was acquired in 1984 and the College became the Royal New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RNZCOG) The new College replaced the former New Zealand Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), in London.
Previous governing bodies
In 1932, the British College (later the RCOG) established the Dominion Reference Committees in Australia, Canada, South Africa, India and New Zealand. These committees consisted of members in each country nominated by the RCOG. Their main role was to advise the RCOG on the character and suitability of candidates for the Membership examination and to make recommendations for promotion to Fellowship.
In 1947 the RCOG raised the status of the Australian Reference Committee with the formation of a provisional Australian Regional Council (ARC), which became official in 1949. The ARC took over the functions of the former Australian Reference Committee, acting as a Standing Committee of the RCOG, its members elected by local Fellows and Members. The RCOG Council controlled the ARC, which consisted of a council, standing committees and six state committees.
Similarly the New Zealand Reference Committee, formed in 1932, had its status raised when it provisionally became the New Zealand Regional Council (NZRC) in 1948. The NZRC was formally inaugurated in 1951.
The above regional councils were established by the RCOG to further the objects of the College in Australia and New Zealand.*
*Super Ardua: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Australia, 1929-79, McDonald, Cope & Forster
Our College Chronology tracks the history of the College, dating back to 1929 up until the purchase of College House.
Coat of Arms
Following amalgamation of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG) and the Royal New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RNZCOG) in 1998, the Coat of Arms of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) was adopted in July 2004. Designed by John Hiscock of The House of Heraldry, in collaboration with artist Paul Sicher, the RANZCOG Coat of Arms incorporates elements from the Coats of Arms of the two former colleges.
Initially the College occupied premises at ‘old’ College House, 8 Latrobe Street, Melbourne, Victoria. In 1983 the College moved to 254 Albert Street, East Melbourne, built in 1873. An additional wing, which included the Frank Forster Library, was added in 1988. The building at 260 Albert Street was purchased in 1991 and the buildings underwent further renovations in 1997.
Having steadily expanded our services and workforce since then, in 2021 the College moved across the river to Djeembana (College Place), at 1 Bowen Crescent, Naarm (Melbourne).
Historical museum collection
Originally housed in an onsite museum that was closed to make room for a growing work force at College House, RANZCOG holds an extensive collection of historical O&G instruments and artefacts offsite. A key feature is a significant collection of obstetric forceps dating from the mid-18th century to the present day. The advances in obstetric teaching, neonatal investigation, as well as fertility investigation, infertility treatment and contraception are represented in the RANZCOG Museum collection.
The RANZCOG Museum collection has been digitally catalogued and interested Trainees, Fellows, researchers and curators can view the Museum collection online:
Frank Forster library
The Frank Forster Library is a historical library with collection strengths in the fields of obstetrics, gynaecology, women’s health, sex education and birth control. The library comprises a general collection and a rare book collection. The general collection is a broad collection holding titles from Australia, New Zealand and overseas. The rare book collection contains many rare antiquarian books dating from the 16th century.
The Frank Forster Library is one of the finest obstetrical and gynaecological collections in the world.
The strength of the general collection lies in titles published in Australia and New Zealand in the areas of obstetrics, gynaecology, women’s health, sex education and birth control. The collection also includes significant publications from all over the world.
Rare book collection
The rare book collection holds many rare antiquarian books dating from the 16th century. Subjects include obstetrics, gynaecology, women’s health, sex education and birth control. The collection includes books published in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Of great interest is the unique collection of scarce Australian and New Zealand pamphlets dating from 1900 to 1955.
Other highlights of the rare books collection include:
A Renaissance illustrated anatomical book
ANZJOG 2004; 44: 378-379 – Fay Bower
The earliest publication held in the Frank Forster Library is: La dissection des parties du corps humain diuisee en trois liures faictz par Charles Estienne docteur en Medecine: avec les figures & declaratio des incisions, composees par Estienne de la Riviere chirurgien. This book is the most fully illustrated of the pre-Vesalian anatomies and is a landmark publication as one of the finest anatomical works of the 16th century.
David D. Davis’s Obstetric Textbook and Atlas
ANZJOG 2003; 43: 338-340 – Fay Bower
David D. Davis (1777-1841) was the physician-accoucher in attendance to the Duchess of Kent when she gave birth to a daughter – the future Queen Victoria. Davis was a prolific writer on the subject of obstetrics and his classes were so well attended that the venues had to be changed to accomodate the large number of students. His obstetric textbook and atlas is beautifully illustrated with detailed lithographic prints.
Early Dutch obstetric atlas
ANZJOG 2004; 44: 86-87 – Fay Bower
Published in 1793, this rare Dutch obstetric atlas titled Obstetric observations and illustrations of a pregnant womb was purchased by the College in 2002. Written by Folkert (Volkert) Snip (1733-1771), illustrated by Maerten Houtman and engraved by de Bakker. The four plates are dated 1767 and show the dissections of the pregnant uterus, each from a slightly different angle.
Early 18th century French obstetric textbook
ANZJOG 2003; 43: 262-63 – Fay Bower
Angelique Marguerite de Boursier du Coudray was a certificated midwife working in Paris from 1740. King Louis XV and his ministers were concerned with the declining birthrate in France so Madame du Coudray was, according to the script beneath her portrait, ‘pensioned and sent by the King to teach the practice of midwifery throughout the realm’ which she did from 1760 to 1783. To facilitate her teaching du Coudray wrote a textbook in simple language and included colour-coded illustrations to assist the learning process.
Early obstetric atlas
ANZJOG 2003; 43: 96 – Fay Bower
This fascinating early obstetric atlas is remarkable in that some of the illustrations incorporate lift-up sections or ‘flaps’ – what we now know as ‘pop-up books’. This atlas by George Spratt and entitled Obstetric tables was published in many editions in both the US and Great Britain. This second edition is dated 1837.
The original Library was established in 1954, with a donation of 20 rare antiquarian books from the RCOG in London. This generous donation was made to the Australian Regional Council of the RCOG on the occasion of the Opening of College House at 8 Latrobe Street, Melbourne.
In 1987 Dr Frank Forster offered his extensive medical history collection of books, journals, pamphlets and prints to the RACOG. The College accepted Dr Forster’s gracious bequest and an additional wing was built in 1988 to accommodate the collection at the new College House in Albert Street, East Melbourne. After Dr Forster passed away in March 1995, the library was officially named the Frank Forster Library, in his memory.