Elizabeth Garrett was the first woman to train and qualify as a doctor in Great Britain. In July 1866 she opened St Mary's Dispensary at no. 69 Seymour Place, Bryanston Square, St Marylebone, where she offered women and children the opportunity of being treated by a female doctor. As well as attending the 60 to 90 out-patients who crowded to each session at the dispensary, she visited patients in their own homes and took charge of midwifery cases in the area. Her marriage to J.G.S. Anderson in 1871 did not prevent her from continuing and expanding her work. In 1872 Lord Shaftesbury opened a ward for 10 beds at the dispensary, which now became known as the New Hospital for Women.
In 1874 the hospital moved to larger premises at nos. 222 and 224 Marylebone Road. In 1889 the Princess of Wales laid the foundation stone of the present hospital building in Euston Road, which was completed in 1890. After the death of its founder in 1917, the hospital was renamed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.
The hospital offered the London School of Medicine for Women (established in 1874) opportunities for clinical teaching, soon augmented by being given access to the wards of the Royal Free Hospital. The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital continued to provide women doctors with valuable experience in hospital posts. The archives of the London School of Medicine for Women, which later became the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, are in the care of the Royal Free Hospital Archives Centre.
Between 1913 and 1948 the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital gradually expanded its activities. In 1912 a legacy enabled the hospital to establish a house of recovery situated in country surroundings not far from London. A large house, no. 83 Gloucester Road, New Barnet, was purchased and named Rosa Morison House after its benefactor. This remained part of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital until 1972, when it was transferred to Barnet Group Hospital Management Committee.
Additional property adjoining the hospital was also acquired on which was built the Queen Mary Wing, opened by the Queen in 1929, and the Nurses' House, opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1938. In 1946 the hospital purchased the Hampstead Nursing Home, 40 Belsize Grove, Hampstead, which was opened by Queen Mary in 1948 as the Garrett Anderson Maternity Home, a maternity unit with 27 beds.
On the formation of the National Health Service in 1948, the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital became one of the Royal Free Hospital group of teaching hospitals. In April 1962 it was transferred to the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board where it became at first part of the Northern Group of hospitals, then from April 1963 part of the North London Group. On the reorganisation of the health service in 1974, the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital became part of the South Camden District in the Camden and Islington Area Health Authority.
Despite massive public support for the hospital, in 1976 the Secretary of State decided that it should close, but recommended that the work of the hospital should be transferred to a district general hospital in the same area in an identifiable form. Between 1975 and 1979 the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Appeal Trust lobbied to save the hospital and raised £900,000 from the public. After the general election in May 1979, the new government reversed the earlier decision and granted £2 million to convert the hospital into a small gynaecological unit, where women could be treated by women. The hospital reopened in 1984 with modern facilities, a new Well Women's service and good operating theatres.
In 1982 the hospital came under the control of the Bloomsbury Health Authority, and since 1991, Bloomsbury and Islington Health Authority. Despite closing the Soho Hospital for Women in 1988, the health authority decided in 1992 to close the beds at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and to use the hospital for day surgery only.
For further information see the catalogue of an exhibition on the history of the hospital held in 1977 (ref. H13/EGA/163/128), Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1836-1917 by Louisa Garrett Anderson 1939 (GLHL 26.09 AND) and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson by Jo Manton 1965 (GLHL 26.09 AND).
The archives of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital were transferred to the Public Record Office in or before 1980, where they were listed and assigned the reference numbers CF1/1-251. In 1984 the archives were transferred to the Greater London Record Office. The existing piece numbers were retained, but the overall classification of the collection was changed from CF1 to H13/EGA in order to accord with the GLRO scheme of classification of hospital records. In 1992/3 a more detailed catalogue of the archives has been prepared, but the existing arrangement of the archives and the existing reference numbers have been retained. The archives include the records of Coed-Bel Cottage, Chislehurst, which opened in 1898 as a "Home of Rest" for women and girls. When it closed in 1931, its endowments were transferred to the Charity Commissioners for the benefit of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.
The archives of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Staff Action Committee 1972-1988 have also been deposited in the Greater London Record Office (ref. Acc 2295). The records of King Edward's Hospital Fund for London include reports on the hospital 1905-1964 (ref. A/KE/248/4, A/KE/515/6, A/KE/545/6, A/KE/737/14, and A/KE/738/51). The archives of the Nightingale School (ref. HI/ST/NTS) and the Nightingale Collection (ref. H1/ST/NC) contain references to some of the first nurses employed at the hospital.