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.