Provenance - Creators and Custodians


Board of Management
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

This provenance note does not include the Board of Directors of the Women’s and Children’s Health Care Network, Women’s and Children’s Health or the Royal Women’s Hospital recreated in 2004.

The Board of Management was the group responsible for the overall management of the hospital from it’s creation in 1856 until its demise in July 1995. At that time the hospital was compulsorily merged with the Royal Children’s Hospital and a Board of Directors was appointed by the state government to manage the new entity.

The Board was known by several names and was variously constituted during its 139 year existence.

Committee/Board members were elected by Subscribers to the hospital at the Annual General Meeting until circa 1980.

VISITING COMMITTEE
A committee of this name was reported in "The Argus" newspaper on 12 August 1856 where it is described as "a group of ladies (who) have consented to become visitors of this institution". These sixteen ladies all went on to be foundation members of the Ladies' Committee (Committee of Management) of the Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children.

Mrs Robert Barlow
Mrs Barry
Mrs Cassell
Mrs Draper
Mrs Griffith
Mrs Guiness
Mrs Handfield
Mrs Heatherington
Mrs Jennings (Alicia)
Mrs Odell
Mrs Macartney
Mrs Charles Perry (Fanny)
Mrs Seddon
Mrs Simpson
Mrs Stubbs

The Prospectus issued in August 1856 prior to the public meeting that formally established the institution also includes the names of Mrs Puckle, Mrs J T Smith and Mrs Tripp. The only lady omitted from these lists who subsequently was on the inaugural Ladies' Committee was Mrs McCombe.

COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT (Ladies' Committee)
This group founded the Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children in August 1856 together with Drs Richard Tracy and John Maund. The first President, Frances (Fanny) Perry was the wife of Melbourne’s first Anglican Bishop and many of the other ladies had strong protestant, particularly evangelical, church connections. They were assisted by a Gentlemen’s Committee “for reference and counsel in time of need”. The Honorary Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Tripp was an active and competent manager whose correspondence from the first two years forms part of Series D0014.

The ladies were hands-on managers, meeting weekly and assuming responsibility for admission of patients, staff appointments and negotiating contracts with builders and suppliers.


COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT (Ladies' Committee and Gentlemen’s Committee)
In 1870 the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Committees merged, although the Annual Reports continue to list the two groups separately until 1972. Changes in legislation saw the numbers and responsibilities change from time to time.

This committee was also referred to as the General Committee until about 1954.

Gentlemens' Committee
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

At the first public meeting of the subscribers to the Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children two committees were established. The Ladies' Committee, which was the Committee of Management (sometimes referred to as the General Committee) and the Gentlemen's Committee which was established “for reference and counsel in time of need”.

In 1870 the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Committees formally merged, although the Annual Reports continue to list the two groups separately until 1972, and Minutes of the Gentlemen's Committee exist from the 1880s.

Members
1858-1862 Mr Thomas Dickson, probably started 1856.
1858-1867 Mr Richard Grice Esq, probably started 1856.
1858-1869 Mr Henry Jennings Esq, probably started 1856 and continued after 1869.
1858-1869 Mr W Macredie Esq, probably started 1856 and continued after 1869.
1858-1862 Mr H M Murphy, probably started 1856.
1858-1862 Mr T H Power, probably started 1856.
1858-1870 Mr T J Sumner Esq, probably started 1856.
1862-1869 Mr James T Harcourt Esq, probably started 1856 and continued after 1869.
1862-1867 Mr J McBean Esq.
1862-1869 Mr P O'Brien Esq, continued after 1869.
1866-1869 Mr Henri J Hart Esq, continued after 1869.
1867-1869 Hon A Fraser, continued after 1869.
1867-1867 Mr Robert Sellar Esq. continued after 1869.

Honorary Secretary
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

An honorary (unpaid) position held by a member of the Committee/Board of Management. During the early years of the hospital, the Committee and hence the Honorary Secretary had complete control over the management of the hospital's affairs.

In c.1887 (the Annual Report is missing for that year) the position of Superintendent and Secretary was created and it appears that the incumbent took responsibility for some at least of the Honorary Secretary's duties. This was a time of substantial enlargement of the hospital with the opening of the Genevieve Ward Wing - the new separately administered Midwifery Department.

1856-1858 Mrs Elizabeth Tripp
1858-1879 Mrs T T a'Beckett (Laura Jane)
1881-1885 Mrs H J Henty
1886-c.1887 Mrs Shields
c.1887-1888 Mrs Lindsay Miller
1889-1902 Mrs Shields
1903-1909 Mrs Charles D'Ebro (Blanche, nee Tracy)
1911-1912 Carrie Earle
1913-1914 Emily Macaw
1915-1925 Not recorded in Annual Reports
1926-1944 Mrs D A Skene
1944- Not yet indexed.

Midwifery Department
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

As can be seen from the hospital's original name, the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for the Diseases Peculiar to Women and Children, the hospital offered care to two categories of patients - lying-in and infirmary - the former being for obstetric or midwifery patients and the latter those with surgical or medical problems. Although in the early days Honorary Physicians treated both classes of patients and patients were accommodated in different wards, separate case books were kept for each group.

No records survive for child patients and they were probably only seen as outpatients.

In the face of public attack over the high death rate among midwifery patients in 1875, allegedly due to the attachment of the Hospital to the Infirmary, Dr Martin countered that the "Hospital and Infirmary were totally distinct and had a distinct staff of nurses in order to avoid any risk." Doctors moving between the wards was not yet seen as a risk.

Overcrowding and increased infection rates through the 1870s and 1880s led to the opening of a completely new midwifery wing in 1888 - the Genevieve Ward Wing, named for the American actress whose performance of "Antigone" raised a great deal of money for the project.

Midwifery and Infirmary departments were truly separated in 1888. The Annual Report of June that year reports that "On the occupation of the new wing, the Midwifery and Infirmary Departments will be kept quite separate. The Committee (of Management) have therefore appointed Dr Eugene Anderson, Resident Medical Officer for the Infirmary and Outdoor (outpatients) Departments and Dr R H Fetherston Resident Medical Officer for the Midwifery Department."

Also that year the Honorary Physicians were increased from four to eight, four in each department. The initial appointments in the Midwifery Department were all new honorary appoinments: Felix Meyer, M U O'Sullivan, J W Dunbar Hooper and G Rothwell Adam. The four original honoraries elected to remain in the Infirmary Department: G H Fetherston, Thomas Rowan, W Balls-Headley and S J Burke.

The term “Lying-in Hospital” dropped out of use from about 1882, being replaced within the hospital at least by “Midwifery Department”. This seems to coincide with the appointment of Dr Felix Meyer as Resident Medical Officer. In 1888 the hospital’s name was changed to The Women’s Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women.

Records generated by the “Lying-in Hospital” have been attributed to the “Midwifery Department” and those by the “Infirmary” to “Infirmary Department”.

Nursing Administration
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors
Royal Women's Hospital
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

The Royal Women’s Hospital is the successor organisation to the hospital created in August 1856 and known as the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children. With the exception of a nine year period between 1995 and 2004 when the hospital was compulsorily merged with the Royal Children’s Hospital to form the Women’s and Children’s Health Care Network (subsequently Women’s and Children’s Health) the hospital has been in continuous operation, although occasionally changing its name and organisational structure. Such changes have generally been the result of changes in Victorian state legislation.

During the period 1995-2004 the RWH continued to function under its own name despite legally being part of the network. Network records which only relate to Royal Women’s Hospital functions are attributed to the RWH provenance. Records created at the executive level which relate to both hospitals are attributed to the Women’s and Children’s Health Care Network / Women’s and Children’s Health provenance.

The provenance "Royal Women’s Hospital" will be given to all records of this hospital from 1856 to the present.

Names by which the hospital has been known over the years are:

1856 - c.1886 Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children

c.1886 - c.1888 Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women

c.1888 - c. 1943 The Women’s Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women

c.1943 - 1954 The Women’s Hospital

1954 - 1995 The Royal Women’s Hospital (royal warrant conferred by Queen Elizabeth II)

1995 - 2004 The Royal Women’s Hospital (as part of network)

2004 - present The Royal Women’s Hospital (fully independent again)

The Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children was founded in August 1856 by a group of benevolently inclined women (the Ladies Committee or Committee of Management) led by Frances Perry, wife of Melbourne's first Anglican Bishop and two young doctors, Richard Thomas Tracy and John Maund. Funds were raised to establish the Hospital from subscribers and after a year or so from the Victorian Government. It was first located at 41 Albert Street, East Melbourne in a small double storied house, but established itself in Madeline Street (to become Swanston Street) Carlton in 1858 once community and government support were secured.

See Provenance notes for Board of Management and Richard Thomas Tracy.

Tracy, Dr Richard Thomas
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

19 September 1826 - 7 November 1874

Tracy was one of the doctors who together with his colleague John Maund and a committee of gentlewomen founded the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Women and Children in Eastern Hill (East Melbourne) in August 1856.

Tracy was born in Ireland and while very young decided to become a doctor. After some time working as a dresser he commenced formal training in Dublin where after three years he gained the Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. That year, 1848, he went to Paris, observing surgical work then moved on to Glasgow where he took charge of the City Cholera Hospital. In May 1849 he took the Degree of M.D. in the University of Glasgow. Several positions followed in England and Ireland and in 1851 he decided his future lay in Australia.

Tracy and his wife first settled in Adelaide; was then drawn to the Victorian goldfields, from where he moved to Melbourne, where he was to remain. He began practice in Brunswick St., Fitzroy in 1852, in a house which also hosted the fledgling Medical Society’s meetings. In 1864 he built an imposing house in Collins Street, where Melbourne’s medical fraternity lived and worked.

Tracy specialised in the diseases of women and developed a large and highly successful practice. He was held in the highest regard by both his colleagues and patients.

He and Maund were well aware of the plight of many impoverished women in Melbourne and his concern for them led to his involvement with the committee of ladies who were simultaneously attempting to found a lying-in hospital. Their joint efforts led to the creation of the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Women and Children in a two story terrace house in Albert Street, Eastern hill (now East Melbourne).

Tracy remained closely associated with the hospital for the remainder of his life and held the position of Honorary Physician. Only terminal illness in his late 40s caused him to relinquish this role.

Tracy’s public responsibilities did not end with the hospital. He was also a founding trustee of St. Mark’s Church of England, Fitzroy and the first health officer of that municipality. He was an Honorary Magistrate; he was active in the Volunteer Militia movement, and a surgeon of the old East Melbourne Artillery Corps from its foundation to his death. He was a foundation member of the Victorian Medical Association (founded late 1852), and he joined the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Victoria when it was formed three years later. After they merged to form the Medical Society of Victoria he served as President in 1860.

So highly and widespread was the regard in which he was held that in 1871 Obstetrical Society of London elected him an Honorary Fellow, of which there were only nine at that time.

In 1873 Tracy undertook a long trip back to Britain. His health was failing and he had been forced to retire from active medical practice. On his departure the Medical Society, his friends and patients presented him with £600 to be spent at his discretion on a service of plate or other permanent memorial.

Tracy visited his surgical hero and mentor, Spencer Wells and witnessed several oviarotomy procedures – the operation that he had performed so successfully in Melbourne with only written guidance from Spencer Wells. Although not the first to operate for this condition in Australia, Tracy was certainly the most successful. Tracy visited the medical fraternity and to represented his Australian colleagues in Britain, but his health continued to deteriorate. By the time he returned to Melbourne early in 1874 he was a very ill man and he died seven months later.

"It is with the deepest regret that the Committee have to record in this report the death of the much-lamented Dr. Tracy, the Senior Physician, and one of the founders of the Institution. His high personal character, and extraordinary professional ability, have caused his death to be regarded as a public calamity; but to this Institution, which was the special object of his care, and in which his professional skill was so remarkably manifested, his loss will be peculiarly severe."

Visiting Committee
Related to the Royal Women's Hospital or its predecessors

A sub-committee of ladies from the Committee/Board of Management who visited the Hospital on a regular basis to check on the welfare of patients, hospital conditions, cleanliness, complaints etc.


Published by the The Royal Women's Hospital Archives Department, November 2006
Listed by Robyn Waymouth
HTML edition Robyn Waymouth
Updated 28 November 2006
http://www.thewomenshistory.org.au/history/guides/general/hdms.htmprovlist.htm

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