In August 1842, a Provisional Committee was formed to consider the suggestion of founding a hospital solely for women. At a meeting of this committee on 8 September 1842, Dr Protheroe Smith, Assistant Lecturer on Midwifery and Diseases of Women at St. Bartholomew's School of Medicine, read a paper advocating this, arguing that it was difficult to treat women's illnesses effectively in the general hospitals then available. Following this and a further period of discussion, in October 1842 the Duke of Rutland agreed to become President of a hospital for women, and at a general meeting on 13 April 1843 a resolution was passed to establish The Hospital for the Diseases of Women and the rules for its management. The Hospital was initially established in Red Lion Square, and the first inpatients were admitted in January 1844. A Ladies Committee was established at about the same time, to deal with domestic arrangements in the Hospital.
In the rules agreed in April 1843, it was stipulated that Annual Subscribers of 1 guinea or more would be Members, while donors of 10 guineas or more and clergymen preaching on behalf of the Hospital would be Life Members. Patients would be recommended by subscribers as follows: annual subscribers of 3 guineas, and donors of 30 guineas, would be entitled to recommend 1 inpatient and 10 outpatients each year;
annual subscribers of less than these amounts would be entitled to recommend 10 outpatients a year for each guinea subscribed annually or every 10 guineas given as a donation;
annual subscribers of 5 guineas, and donors of 50 guineas could recommend 2 inpatients and 20 outpatients a year. The level of subscription or donation would also determine the number of votes members were entitled to at Annual or Special General Meetings.
The Hospital changed its name to The Hospital for Women in 1845 and moved to Soho Square in 1852. There were further developments in the Hospital in July 1869, when a new wing was opened by Princess Mary Adelaide to accommodate patients who could afford to contribute towards the cost of their maintenance and treatment, and in 1877, when a system of training nurses was established in the Hospital. The hospital was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1887 under the name "The President and Governors of The Hospital for Women".
There was significant expansion towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. No. 2 Frith Street was acquired in 1882, while new buildings were opened in the rear of the Hospital by Princess Christian, providing waiting facilities for outpatients and accommodation for nurses, in 1894. A rebuilding scheme was developed in the early years of the 20th century, with nos. 3 and 4 Frith Street being acquired in 1905 and 1909 respectively, and the rebuilding getting underway in 1909. The new buildings were opened on 1 October 1910, providing 68 beds. Finally, nos. 5-7 Frith Street were also acquired, to allow for future expansion when required, in 1914 and 1924. A new private ward for paying patients was opened in 1925, after consultation with the Charity Commission, among others, to ensure that this did not conflict with the Hospital's Charter.
The Hospital was closed in 1939 on the outbreak of war, and a First Aid Post was opened in the Outpatients Department by Westminster City Council, although the Hospital was partially reopened in June 1940. In July 1940 the Hospital took over control of the First Aid Post from Westminster City Council, who nevertheless continued to fund it.
The Hospital developed plans to merge with the Samaritan Free Hospital in 1946, establishing a Conjoint Medical Committee in May that year, with the two Committees of Management sitting in combined meetings. These plans had to be abandoned, however, when in 1948, on the establishment of the National Health Service, the Samaritan Free Hospital was amalgamated with St. Mary's Hospital and The Hospital for Women became part of The Middlesex Hospital Group.
This fonds contains minutes of the main committees of the hospital from its foundation to its inclusion in The Middlesex Hospital Group under the National Health Service. These comprise the Committee of Management, House Committee, Medical Committee and Samaritan Funds Committee. The fonds also contains annual reports, ephemera relating to fundraising activities and photographs, as well as some nurses' training records. Finally, there are patients' case records and registers, mostly covering the first half of the 20th century, although some case papers created by Dr Protheroe Smith can also be found here. This fonds does not include records created by The Hospital for Women after its amalgamation with The Middlesex Hospital in 1948.