On October 6, 1905, 9 physician-anesthetists, whose particular interests centered on anesthetics, met at Long Island College Hospital at the invitation of Dr. A. Frederick Erdmann for the purpose of "promoting the art and science of anesthesia." From this small group came the Long Island Society of Anesthetists and it was this organization that gave rise to organized anesthesia in the United States and its present body, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
As interest in anesthetics and the scientific sessions of the new society grew throughout those first years, so did the need to broaden the scope of membership. On October 28, 1911 at the New York Academy of Medicine, located at 40 East 41st Street in Manhattan, the name of the society was changed to the New York Society of Anesthetists. On February 7, 1912, their new constitution reiterated the precepts of its founders for "the advancement of the science and art of Anesthesia..."
The importance of a journal of anesthesia publications, news and activities was advocated by Frank H. McMechan, one of anesthesia's most militant and zealous pioneers. In 1914, he persuaded the American Journal of Surgery to include supplements on anesthesia and analgesia on a quarterly basis.
In response to the need to make the society a national one, and to advance toward the approval of a specialty board with the American Medical Association (AMA), the word "American" was substituted for "New York" on February 13, 1936, and the society became the American Society of Anesthetists. By the close of the fourth decade, anesthesiology became a recognized medical specialty having a national Society, a certification process, a specialty Board, a section in the American Medical Association (AMA) and a formal journal of its own "Anesthesiology" representing the American Society of Anesthetists with its first issue in July of 1940.
During World War II doctors were needed to care for the wounded of the Armed Forces. The crash courses in anesthesia, needed to train these doctors, did not go unappreciated. Surgeons were put at ease with fellow physicians at the head of the operating table administering and supervising anesthetics. This mutual respect increased in the post-war period when trained anesthesiologists came to be in demand at civilian hospitals.
The word "anesthesiology" was coined in 1902 by Dr. M. J. Seifert who defined it as: "The science that treats the means and methods of producing various degrees of insensibility to pain with or without hypnosis. An Anesthetist is a technician and an Anesthesiologist is the specific authority on anesthesia and anesthetics." And as anesthesiology commonly replaced the word "anesthesia" in official medical usage, the American Society of Anesthetists became the American Society of Anesthesiologists, on May 12, 1945. In December of that same year, the first PostGraduate Assembly in Anesthesiology (PGA) was held and in 1947 became the Annual Meeting of the newly formed state component of the ASA, The New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA).
Read more about the History of the PGA.