The Anesthesia Memorial Foundation began in 1956 as a tax-exempt organization affiliated with ASA. It was established by officers of ASA and their legal counsel to “aid in the improvement and advancement of anesthesia …” and as a recipient organization for those who wanted to memorialize anesthesiologists. The articles of incorporation of the Foundation stated that one of the Foundation’s aims was to “loan or give money to deserving persons to assist them in becoming specialists in anesthesia or for research or study in the field of anesthesia or related fields … .” The initial funds came from a contribution from the Ohio Society of Anesthesiologists and a loan, again, based on documented need, from ASA that was later converted to a grant.

In 1984, the name was changed to The Anesthesia Foundation and incorporation was moved from Ohio to Illinois. In its first 40 years, the Anesthesia Foundation granted 899 loans to 723 individuals for a total of $3,529,400. The recipients represent every state that has (or had) an anesthesiology residency program. The Anesthesia Foundation recirculates all the monies that are repaid on loans, and the assets increase by loan interest income, investment income and gifts from individuals, component societies and industry. As the assets increase, the Foundation increases the number of loans that can be granted.