The Melbourne Medical School at the University of Melbourne was founded in 1862 and celebrated its 150th anniversary, in 2012. George Britton Halford was appointed the first Professor of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology at the school. Classes had commenced in 1863 and the Faculty of Medicine was established in 1876.
Since establishment, the Melbourne Medical School has been at the forefront of medical teaching practices and research. The school boasts several Nobel recipients throughout its history, as well as important medical breakthroughs that include the discovery of germs, to the invention of the bionic ear.
Keys to the Past provides further information about the history of the Melbourne Medical School. The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Services have provided a short history of the school. There is also a gateway to the history of medicine at the University of Melbourne that includes the online catalogue for the Medical History Museum.
UMA holds the records of the School of Medicine departments; most of these collections contain minutes, administrative files and correspondence.
- Faculty of Medicine collection
- Department of Pathology collection
- Department of Psychology collection
- Medical Library collection
- Department of Public Health and Community collection
Medical School student lecture notes can be found in individual’s collections; however, this guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list of material and as such not all the collections containing notes have been listed. An example of early lecture notes can be found in the Edward Ronald Welch collection. Items include student notebooks on laboratory work, covering topics such as natural philosophy, medicine, surgery, biology, obstetrics and forensic medicine.
Please note: For more material relating to the School itself, see the papers of University medical academics. The list under Other Medicine Related Collections details the Registrar's correspondence
The University of Melbourne Archives' collection of papers from medical academics is of great significance. This extensive collection reflects the role played by the University’s Medical School, in the research and development of medicine on an international scale.
Collection highlights include the papers of Nobel laureate Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, former Vice-Chancellors Sir James Barrett and Sir George Paton Whitecross, former Dean William Alexander Osborne, Professor of Pathology Sir Peter MacCallum and former Director of the Peter MacCallum Clinic and Professor of Physiology Roy Douglas Wright.
The papers of Harry Brookes Allen and the Department of Pathology (both listed below under Harry Brookes Allen) contain correspondence with hospitals regarding anatomical specimens for teaching purposes, as well as catalogues of specimens and Brookes' descriptions. This material complements the holdings of the Harry Brookes Allen Museum in the University's Department of Pathology.
Sir Harry Brookes Allen
Sir Harry Brookes Allen studied at the Church of England Grammar School and the University of Melbourne. Allen graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1876 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1878. He was appointed Demonstrator of Anatomy in 1880, Lecturer in 1882, Professor of Descriptive, Surgical Anatomy and Pathology in 1883 and Professor of Pathology in 1906.
In 1889, Allen acted as honorary Secretary for the second session of the Intercolonial Medical Congress in Melbourne. Allen became Dean of the Medical Faculty from 1886. He was President of the Royal Commission, on the Sanitary State of Melbourne and Chairman of the Inter-colonial Rabbit Commission.
Allen visited England and Europe in 1890 and became the first colonial graduate registered there (supporting the University of Melbourne's successful petition to permit registration in England). Allen brought back to Australia the latest knowledge that resulted in the establishment of bacteriology at the University. He was prominently associated with the establishment of the Institute of Tropical Medicine and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
The Harry Brookes Allen collection includes University Medical School documents, correspondence, lecture books, photographs of specimens and research papers.
Sir James William Barrett
Sir James William Barrett graduated in medicine at the University of Melbourne, in 1887. Barrett proceeded to Kings College, London, to qualify in surgery. After several appointments at London hospitals, he joined the staff of the medical school at the University of Melbourne. Later, Barrett became a surgeon at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. During World War One, he was a lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps. In 1931, Barrett had succeeded Sir John Monash and became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. He was appointed Chancellor (1934 to 1939). He was active in public affairs and was particularly interested in the role of the University.
The James William Barrett collection includes manuscripts, notes, certificates, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes and photographs.
Professor Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet
Professor Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet was the Assistant Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne (1928 to 1931) and (1934 to 1944). From 1944 to 1946, he was the Director. Burnet became Director and Professor of Experimental Medicine (1944 to 1965).
In 1960, Burnet was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology. In 1962, he was awarded the Mueller Medal for contributions to science, at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Congress. Burnet played a major role in the development of medical research in Australia. He also contributed consistently to the public debate of social issues that included nuclear energy/weapons, environmental concerns and modern world philosophy.
The Burnet collection contains a comprehensive set of personal records that includes biographical, diaries/notebooks, correspondence/working papers, scrapbooks and photographs.
Please note: A number of laboratory and epidemiology notebooks by Macfarlane Burnet (1932-1982) have been digitised and are available for researchers by using the search term “Burnet” in the Searched Digitised Items catalogue.
Leonard Bell Cox
Leonard Bell Cox was educated at Wesley College and graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1916 from the University of Melbourne. In 1920, he graduated with a Doctor of Medicine and was Beanie Scholar of Pathology. During the 1930s and 1940s, Cox was a Stewart Lecturer in Medicine and lectured in Neurological Pathology. Cox was associated with the Pathology Museum and a consulting neurologist to the Alfred and Queen Victoria hospitals.
The Leonard Bell Cox collection consists of a small amount of medical subject files.
Diana Joan Dyason
Diana Joan Dyason graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1943. Dyason graduated with a Master of Science in 1945. In 1943, she was a demonstrator in the Physiology Department, at the University of Melbourne. Dyason transferred to the Department of General Science (later the Department of History and Philosophy of Science) and became senior lecturer (1957-1965). She was in charge of the department from 1958. In 1965, she was appointed Reader and Head of Department. She remained as Head of Department until 1974 and Reader until her retirement, in 1984.
In 1967, Dyason was the foundation president of the Australasian Association of the History and Philosophy of Science. After her retirement from the University of Melbourne, she was appointed as a Research Associate.
The Diana Dyason collection includes lecture and research notes on the history of medicine, research notes on animal/avian malaria and malarial parasites, course notes and materials for ‘History of Public Health and
George Britton Halford
George Britton Halford had undertaken medical training/research in England and Scotland. In 1862, Halford became chair of anatomy, physiology and pathology, at the University’s Medical School.
In 1903, Halford investigated the effects and treatment of snakebite. He developed his radical ‘germ theory’ of snakebite poisoning. Halford observed a post-mortem examination of a cobra bite victim and thought the snake had injected a ‘germinal matter’ and had spread rapidly. Halford was influenced by the instrumental role that germs have in patients with infectious diseases and proposed a new treatment for snakebite. To intravenously inject ammonia into the patient.
The George Halford collection includes a paper on heart action and sounds, correspondence and notes. Please note: There is only limited material related to medicine.
Basil Kilvington graduated from the University of Melbourne, with a Bachelor of Medicine in 1898. Later Kilvington graduated with a Bachelor of Surgery (1900), Doctor of Medicine (1901) and Master of Surgery (1902). A resident medical officer at the Melbourne Hospital in 1899, he then became a tutor at Trinity College and carried out teaching and research work at the University. In 1908, Kilvington obtained the Syme Research Prize and was appointed demonstrator. He was a part-time lecturer in Anatomy and later Stewart Lecturer in Surgery.
Kilvington was also president of the Melbourne Rotary Club, British Medical Association, Victorian Branch (1921) and a Foundation Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He retired in 1935.
This collectionincludes correspondence, medical certificates and a photograph of Kilvington as a young man. Please note: There is only limited material related to medicine.
Edgar Samuel John King
Edgar Samuel John King was a medical graduate from the University of Melbourne. King graduated with a Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and a Doctor of Science. He was a Surgeon Outpatients and Clinical Tutor in Surgery at the Melbourne Hospital, from 1931. Later he was Stewart Lecturer in Pathology at the University of Melbourne (1928 to 1932), Senior Lecturer from 1932 and became Acting Professor in 1934.
King won the Jacksonian Prize of the Royal College of Surgeons on three occasions (1930, 1933 and 1938) and received other distinctions. In 1951, he followed Sir Peter MacCallum as Professor of Pathology, a post he held until 1966.
Edgar Samuel King’s collection includes correspondence to medical colleagues on clinical matters and testimonials. Please note: There is only limited material related to medicine.
Robert Lovell was educated at Cheltenham and London Universities. Lovell worked as a House Physician and Medical Registrar for several hospitals in London. He was Senior Lecturer at the St. Mary's Hospital (1950 to 1955).
Lovell was the Professor of Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (1955 to 1983). Lovell was first Chairman of the Medical Research Ethics Committee of National Health and Medical Research (1982 to 1988). The Committee was concerned with gene therapy, in vitro fertilisation, embryo experimentation and other topics.
The Robert Lovell collection includes notebooks, cards and work papers. Please note: Work papers that refer to Lovell's position as Professor of Medicine, papers of the Working Party on Ethics in Medical Research and Medical Research Ethics Committee are restricted and may not be available for immediate retrieval.
Sir Peter MacCallum
Peter MacCallum was educated at Canterbury University College and Edinburgh University. In 1915, MacCallum enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Belgium and France. In 1919, he returned to Edinburgh and was Lecturer in Pathology. He was appointed Professor of Pathology at the University of Melbourne (1925 to 1950).
MacCallum contributed to the design of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and was instrumental in the establishment of the Cancer Institute. MacCallum was also Executive Chairman of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria (1945) and National Chairman of the Red Cross (1951 to 1958). Search the Red Cross records at UMA for material by and about MacCallum in this position.
The Peter MacCallum collection includes lecture notes on chemistry, blood diseases, bone, heart, hematopoietic tissue, chronic hepatitis, mammary gland, sanitary law, pregnancy, cancer, renal function and subcutaneous tissue. Also included are speeches on the integration of teaching in the Department of Pathology and hospitals.
Felix Henry Meyer
Felix Henry Meyer graduated at the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (1880-81) and a Doctor of Medicine in 1902. Meyer was on the senior staff of the Women's Hospital (1887 to 1918). He was a lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology (1914 to 1918) at the University of Melbourne and published many medical articles. He had a private practice at Carlton and later at Collins Street, until his retirement in 1935.
Meyer was President of the British Medical Association, Victorian Branch (1894), the Board of Examiners/Chair for the Victorian State Certificate of Midwifery (1916), member of the Obstetrical Research Committee (1925) and the Chair of Obstetrics in the University of Melbourne (1929). In 1927, he was a foundation fellow of the College of Surgeons of Australasia (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons).
The Felix Henry Myer and Family collection includes medical articles by Meyer, medical reports, University correspondence, biographical material, postcards and photograph albums. Please note: There is only limited material related to medicine.
Professor David Geoffrey Penington
David Geoffrey Penington was a medical graduate at the University of Melbourne and Oxford. Penington was Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne (1970 to 1987), Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (1978 to 1985) and Vice-Chancellor (1988 to 1995). Pennington was the Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry, into the Rights of Private Practice in Public Hospitals (1984) and the AIDS Task Force (1984 to 1987). Pennington played a leading part in the controversy surrounding the Victorian Certification of Education and for the defence of the autonomy of universities. In 1999, he was appointed Chairman of the Victorian State Government Drugs Taskforce.
The Penington collection includes correspondence, memoranda, legal cases of individuals inflicted with AIDS and files related to AIDS Task Force. Please note: There is only limited material related to medicine. This collection is restricted and may not be available for immediate retrieval.
Vera Scantlebury Brown
Vera Scantlebury Brown was educated at Toorak College and the University of Melbourne Medical School. In 1914, Brown graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine.
Brown worked at the Melbourne Hospital and Children's Hospital, until 1917. During the First World War, Brown was as an Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps. She worked at the Endell Street Military Hospital. It was the only hospital staffed entirely by women suffragists. In 1919, she received honorary appointments at the leading women's and children's hospitals in Melbourne. Brown also received appointments at the Victorian Baby Health Centres Association and the Free Kindergarten Union of Victoria. In 1924, she was awarded a Doctor of Medicine.
In 1926, Brown was Director of the infant welfare section, Victorian Health Department. Infant welfare advanced rapidly under Brown's guidance. She pioneered compulsory training for infant welfare nurses and published influential guides for infant feeding and childcare. Brown was equally pioneering in the areas of antenatal and pre-school care. In 1938, she was appointed an Order of the British Empire.
Vera Scantlebury Brown’s collection includes diary-letter books that were written by Brown, during her time spent working as an Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Also included are notebooks and other correspondence.
Sir Sydney Sunderland
Sir Sydney Sunderland was a graduate at the University of Melbourne. In 1936, Sunderland was appointed Senior Lecturer of Human Anatomy. He held the position of Honorary Assistant Neurologist and Neurosurgeon, at the Alfred Hospital. In 1937, Sunderland became Demonstrator in Human Anatomy, at the University of Oxford. He continued his research in neuroanatomy. In 1938, he was appointed Professor of Anatomy, at the University of Melbourne. From 1940 to 1945, he was in charge of a Peripheral Nerve Injury Unit, at the A.G.M.H. in Heidelberg. Sunderland was Dean of Medicine (1953 to 1971) and Professor of Experimental Neurology, from 1961. He retired in 1975.
Sir Sydney Sunderland’s collection includes correspondence, Medical School papers, lecture notes/speeches, papers relating to work for medicine in developing countries and photographs. Please note: Box 24 and films from box 15 are restricted and may not be available for immediate retrieval.
Sir Alfred Edward Rowden
Sir Alfred Edward Rowden White graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Medicine (1900) and a Doctor of Medicine (1906). He worked at the Fremantle Quarantine Hospital (1900 to 1902) and was a Junior Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Children's Hospital and a Senior Resident Medical Officer at the Children's and Alfred Hospitals.
During the First World War, White was appointed Major of the Australian Army Medical Corps at the No.2 Australian General Hospital, Boulogne. In 1930, he helped to establish the Association of Physicians of Australasia (succeeded by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians). He was the Vice-President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1944 to 1946) and chaired the medical staffs of the Children's and St Vincent's hospitals. He retired in 1938.
White was a generous benefactor of medical, cultural and charitable organizations that included the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. A strong supporter of the University, White gave money towards the establishment of the Rowden White Library, in Union House. In 1955, he set up the Alfred and Edward Rowden White Foundation for Medical Research at the Royal Women’s Hospital. White was knighted in 1961 and died in 1963. He requested in his will that most of the income from his estate be for financing medical and scientific research at the University of Melbourne.
The Rowden White collection includes a medical treatment book, professional papers and notes (1898-c.1954), war and travel diaries, personal and professional correspondence and photographs of White.
Roy Douglas Wright
Roy Douglas Wright studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. In 1929, Wright graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He became a resident medical officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Wright developed a fascination for medical research. Wright became Senior Lecturer in Pathology at the University of Melbourne (1934 to 1938) and Professor of Physiology (1939 to 1971). His tenure as Professor of Physiology coincided with remarkable developments in medical research and Endocrinology. He was Deputy Chancellor (1972 to 1980) and Chancellor (1980). He was Medical Director of the Peter MacCallum Clinic (1971 to 1975) and a consultant to the Howard Florey Institute (1975).
The Roy Douglas Wright collection includes an audiotape recording (a lengthy description of the state of medicine in China that is dated 1971), lecture notes, correspondence and photographs. Please note: This collection is partly restricted and may not be available for immediate retrieval. The part restrictions refer to personal correspondence (1939 to 1967), miscellaneous papers, reports and correspondence relating to organisations with which Wright was involved. Also, there is a part restriction on Wright speaking about the Orr Case, wartime activities and other topics for ABC Radio.
These collections contain the records of the Faculty committees and boards. Most of the collections include minutes, administrative files and correspondence. For more material relating to the School itself, see the papers of University medical academics. The list under Other Medicine Related Collections details the Registrar's correspondence collection, an invaluable source of information on the teaching of medicine at the University.
- Cancer Research Committee collection
- Medical Post-Graduate Committee collection
- Medical Research Committee collection
- Professional Board Committee on Research collection
Please note: The collections are restricted and may not be available for immediate retrieval.
The University's student medical societies were, from a very early period, highly active in organising social events and advocating on behalf of medical students. The Melbourne University Medical Students' Society continues to exist to today and it’s journal “Speculum” is accessible in digital form as well as in the Library Catalogue.
The Medical Society of Victoria collection dates from 1867 to 1955. The Society was one of the most important medical associations in Victoria during this time.