Series 47 - Midwifery Books

Date Range19 August 1856 - 21 March 1889
ProvenanceMidwifery Department

As the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women ans Children was the first public hospital for women in Australia, this is the first set of patient records of their kind in Australia. Indeed they are one of the oldest surviving systematic records of childbirth in the world.

These two volumes are the first midwifery records kept by the Lying-in Hospital. They record every midwifery case from the first admission in August 1856 until the record keeping system changed in March 1889. Drs Richard Tracy and John Maund, the two medical founders of the hospital modelled them on the midwifery books developed by James Young Simpson, the great Scottish obstetrician of the Edinburgh Lying-in Hospital.

These two bound volumes have details of the mother and the delivery entered by hand in a systematic way that enabled Tracy and Maund to analyse their patients and practice. Each patient is recorded chronologically by date of admission, sometimes weeks before the child was born. The patient's name is given, her age, marital status and place of birth. Details of the labour are recorded, often very briefly as most proceeded without cause for special remarks, although the duration of the labour is noted, the presentation of the baby, and if the child was alive or stillborn. Sex, weight and length are noted.

In 1888 the Hospital divided the Midwifery and Infirmary Departments physically and administratively. The Midwifery Department moved into a completely separate new building in Cardigan Street and the honorary staff was increased to eight, four of whom only worked in Midwifery. The record keeping system changed so that Birth Registers (Series 158) and Labour Ward Case Books (Series 156) were maintained. There are also two Midwifery Department Honorary Physicians Case Books (1888-1891) (Series 154), the context of which is not fully understood.

Care must be taken in relying on the details found in records from this period. Spelling is variable and identities were sometimes being concealed. It is necessary to know the date of a birth (or more specifically, date of admission) to find a particular entry.

Both volumes have been microfilmed and Volume 1 is partially available on the Archives website.

Access Conditions: Patient confidentiality

ArrangedChronological Arranged by Creator

Inventory Listing

Melbourne Lying-in Hospital Midwifery Book No 1
A1991/05/001, S0047

Patient records

Bound volume, manuscript

This is the first record of patients admitted to the Midwifery Department of the Lying-in Hospital, and is consequently the first volume of patients admitted to a public women's hospital in Australia. Notes on the back cover list women who paid for training as monthly nurses from 1861.

Microfilm copy of this item, A1998/05/01.
Displayed in Tracy Maund Museum Sept 1998 - Aug 2002

Creator Midwifery Department
Date range 19 August 1856 - 15 March 1879
Inventory Identifier 04200047 Series 47
Melbourne Lying-in Hospital Midwifery Book No 2
A1991/05/002, S0047

Patient records

Bound volume, manuscript

Microfilm copy of this volume is A1998/05/01.
See Supp File: Dates of two confinements, Oct & Nov 1883, do not agree with official registrations.
Displayed in Tracy Maund Museum September 1998 - August 2002.

Creator Midwifery Department
Date range 18 March 1879 - 21 March 1889
Inventory Identifier 04210047 Series 47

Published by the The Royal Women's Hospital Archives Department, November 2006
Listed by Robyn Waymouth
HTML edition Robyn Waymouth
Updated 28 November 2006

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