[HASN logo] No.35, December 1995 ISSN 0811-4757

Edited and published by Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au) for ASAP.

[Archives logo]

The AMA Archives Collection at the Brownless Medical Library

One of the several really exciting acquisitions to the Brownless Medical Library during 1994 was the collection of documents created at the Australian medical Association in Victoria and known as its Archives Collection. This is not, in fact, a collection of the archival records of the AMA, but an amazing compilation of documents, photographs, newspaper cuttings, etc, created by Miss Ann Tovell over a number of years at the AMA and maintained since her departure by succeeding AMA librarians. With the demise of the AMA Library, the Brownless was fortunate to inherit this collection and will continue to add to it in the future.

The collection is housed in envelopes in eight filing cabinets and is well indexed. Emphasis was placed on the medical history of Victoria, although material on the rest of Australia can also be found. The majority of the materials indexed are newspaper and journal clippings. These record the articles of individual doctors, hospital developments and the occasional 'scandal'. Publications were also included in these envelopes and during an exploration of the collection, a whole envelope of early volumes of rules and regulations for the Royal Melbourne Hospital emerged. The biographical details of doctors in Victoria were obviously of considerable interest and every obituary, or public reference to an individual, has been carefully noted.

In following up these biographical details, it is clear that individuals were encouraged to deposit documents and photographs with the AMA Library and these were added to the envelopes. The photographs cover a wide variety of periods and topics. A group photo of the Melbourne University graduating class of 1929 is accompanied by one of the class reunion in 1979. Another envelope contained photos of a group of self-conscious young men, each holding a baby, and is annotated 'Royal Women's Hospital 1917'. Yet another find was a collection of visiting-card sized portraits of the professors in the Medical Faculty of Edinburgh in 1862, all looking suitably grave. A collection of leather-bound graduation certificate booklets, dating from the period at the end of the First World War, was also noted; each page covers an aspect of the degree and provides quite a detailed survey of the graduating doctor's student career.

[Group photo, 'Royal Women's Hospital 1917']From the AMA Archives Collection, 'Royal Women's Hospital, 1917'

The instruments and photographs which formed the Museum of the Medical Society of Victoria, held at the AMA, were also transferred to the University of Melbourne, this time to the Medical History Unit on the top floor of the Brownless Medical Library. It has been necessary to do some sorting of the donation but a number of quite fascinating items have been found. They will add considerably to the riches displayed in the Medical History Museum.

The collection's existence will be more widely advertised in the future, and will receive care and protection and further investigation of their riches. They do, however, promise to provide a treasure trove of research material for the history of medicine in Victoria and, in passing, for genealogical research.

Anyone wishing to donate photographs, new and old, or documents to the Archives Collection, or anyone wishing to use its resources, is most welcome to contact Mrs Dorothea Rowse at the Brownless Medical Library, telephone (03) 9344 5717.

- Dorothea Rowse, Life Sciences Librarian (extracted from Chiron, Journal of the University of Melbourne Medical Society, Vol.3, No. 3, April 1995).

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