Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Museum

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Museum

The museum is a specialist medical history museum which is housed in College House; two linked Victorian buildings located opposite the Fitzroy Gardens on the edge of the city of Melbourne. The museum has existed in various forms since 1954. In 1996, renovations at the College provided a dedicated space for the museum, which was officially opened in October 1997 by Professor Bryan Hibbard, Curator of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Museum in London.

Address: 
254-260 Albert St, East Melbourne, VIC
Tel: 
0394171699
Hours: 
9am-5pm, by appointment.
Admission: 
Free
Facilities: 
Reference library and archives. Access by appointment.
Collection: 
The focus of the collection is the history of obstetrics and gynaecology in Australia and the contribution of this to the advancement of women's health. Its strength is the collection of obstetric and gynacological instruments, including an important representative collection of obstetric forceps, the earliest dating from c1750. Other important elements include the contraceptive collection, items of early drug company ephemera and an infant feeding bottle collection.
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Items

Chloroform bottle

Creator:
W.J. Bush & Co. Ltd., London
Description:
An amber glass chloroform bottle with a clear glass stopper and intact label. This is part of a collection of instruments, doctor's supplies and pharmaceuticals which came in the GP Obstetric Bag belonging to Dr Mitchell Henry O'Sullivan.
Date:
1920-1930s
Item Id Number:
191

M.H O'Sullivan was born in 1892 and graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1916. After returning from World War I, he set up practice in the then isolated country town Casterton, in the Western District of Victoria. He practised obstetrics until the late 1960s. The bag and its contents reflect the practice of obstetricians in the interwar period. They were donated by his son, Dr David O'Sullivan, along with copies of photos, certificates and references.

Wound syringe

Creator:
Unknown
Description:
This syringe has a glass barrel and plunger, with a cotton insert, a cork bung and and wooden cap.
Date:
c1915-1922
Item Id Number:
69

This was one of the objects associated with Mrs Mary Livingstone Howlett, a midwife who practised in the Western District of Victoria from 1866. In 1887 at the age of 46, she began her 6 months of training at the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital. The collection also contains her training certificate and her certificate of Life-Governorship of the hospital. Syringes like this one were in use from c1915 to the early 1940s. It was donated to the collection by Dr Frank Forster, having been given to him by Mrs Howlett's daughter.

Pro-race Pessary

Creator:
A Saunders & Co. Pty. Ltd., Melbourne
Description:
A black rubber cap with its associated packaging and product information sheet.
Date:
c1930-1940s
Item Id Number:
53

This object was donated by Professor Geoff Bishop. The cap is similar to the one advocated by Marie Stopes as a method of contraception. The accompanying information sheet also contains advertising for Vimule Jelly.

Caul

Description:
Yellow paper-like tissue, multiplely folded upon itself.
Date:
1895
Item Id Number:
34

Caul is thin membrane, part of the amnion which sometimes envelops the head of the feotus at birth. It was thought by some to have protective qualities. During the First World War many servicemen carried caul as goodluck charms. This piece belonged to Private Robert Holbery, who served in France.

Smellie's obstetric forceps

Creator:
unknown
Description:
An early pair of Smellie long stright forceps, with iron blades which have remnants of the original leather covering. The handles are also covered with brown leather.
Date:
c1750
Item Id Number:
6

William Smellie is generally given credit for improving the design of obstetric forceps to make them easier to use and less likely to damage the baby during delivery. These forceps were part of a collection of 10 representative obstetric forceps given to the Australian Regional Council of the RCOG by Professor Kellar of Edinburgh in 1956.