CRNA Profiles: Alice Magaw


Alice Magaw was born November 9, 1860, in Cashocton, Ohio. She attended the Women’s Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago from 1887 to1889, and after graduation she worked as a private duty nurse in Chicago.
 
In 1893, Magaw became the anesthetist for Drs. William J. and Charles H. Mayo at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., a position she held until 1908 when she married Dr. George Kessel. In 1899, Magaw became the first nurse anesthetist to be published when the Northwestern Lancet printed her article “Observations in Anesthesia.” Five more articles would follow. Charles Mayo bestowed upon her the name “Mother of Anesthesia” for her mastery of open drop ether.
 
Magaw died on February 17, 1928, in Hudson, Wis.
 
 
 

 Sources for Additional Information on Magaw

 
American Association for the History of Nursing. Gravesites of Prominent Nurses: Alice Magaw.
 
Bankert M. Watchful Care: A History of America's Nurse Anesthetists. New York: Continuum; 1989. See chapter 1.
Available from the AANA Bookstore.
 
Harris NA. Alice Magaw: The Mother of Anesthesia [dissertation]. Iowa City: University of Iowa; 2006.
Can be purchased through Dissertation Express (order number 3248015)
 
Koch E.  Alice Magaw and the great secret of open drop anesthesia. AANA Journal. 1999;67(1):33-38. Includes a reprint of Magaw’s article “A review of over fourteen thousand surgical anaesthesias.”
 
Pougiales J. The first anesthetizers at the Mayo ClinicJournal of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. 1970;38(3):235-241.
 
Thatcher VS. History of Anesthesia with Emphasis on the Nurse Specialist. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1953. See chapters 4-5.
 
Nelson JE, Wilstead SF. Alice Magaw (Kessel): her life in and out of the operating room. AANA Journal. 2009;77(1):12-16.
 

 Magaw's Bibliography

 
Magaw A. Observations in anesthesia. Northwestern Lancet. 1899;19:207-210.
 
Magaw A. Observations on 1092 cases of anesthesia from Jan. 1, 1899 to Jan. 1, 1900. St. Paul Medical Journal. 1900;2:306-311.
 
Magaw A. A report of 245 cases of anesthesia by nitrous oxide gas and ether. St. Paul Medical Journal. 1901;3(4):231-233. Also printed in: Railway Surgeon. May 14, 1901;7(26): 599-600.
 
Magaw A. The administration of anesthetics. St. Paul Medical Journal. 1902;4:11-16.
 
Magaw A. Observations drawn from an experience of eleven thousand anesthesias. Transactions of the Minnesota State Medical Association. 1904;91-99. [Discussion of paper, 99-102]
 
Magaw A. A review of over fourteen thousand surgical anesthesias. Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics. 1906;3:795-799. Reprinted in the February 1999 AANA Journal.