The Women’s: carers, advocates and reformers

The Women’s: Carers, advocates and reformers exhibition explores the work of The Royal Women’s Hospital through the contributions of many remarkable individuals; public education and health campaigns; the training of nurses, midwives, doctors and other health professionals; and public policy and research. It follows the institution from its modest East Melbourne origins to its location today in the Parkville medical precinct, while also presenting the stories and knowledge of the traditional owners. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue highlight items from the Women’s Historic and Archive collection, Medical History Museum collection and the Victorian Public Records Office.

The Women’s has played a critical role in the life Melbourne since its beginnings. As historian Janet MacCallum explains:  'The Royal Women’s Hospital opened in August 1856 as the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital and Infirmary for the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children in a terrace house in Albert Street, East Melbourne. Melbourne was in the midst of a gold-rush that would bring half a million people through the colony in the decade. Women were abandoned, pregnant and destitute, while their husbands and erstwhile lovers tried their luck on the goldfields. The need for a charity lying-in hospital for women without homes was urgent.'

Image: Dr Kate Campbell (1899-1986) examining a premature baby in an isolette, 1974. Gift of Winifred Crick, Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne