Medicine in 1860s Victoria

Helmcken Notebooks

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Dr. Helmcken kept detailed case notes on his patients in a series of notebooks. He also kept notes on diseases and their treatment, as well as on the properties of various medicines. The notes were, of course, handwritten, and Dr. Helmcken's penmanship shows that even in the 1860s a doctor's writing was hard to read.

To the right is one of Dr. Helmcken's notebooks, appearing to contain notes about people ("Sarah" on the left page) and diseases ("Cerebral disease" on the right page).

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Helmcken Notebook   Click for reference data


To the left is a record of one patient's case notes over a period of about a week, from a second of Dr. Helmcken's notebooks. Prescriptions can be seen at the bottom of each entry. Part of the text reads:

"23. Head much better. Pain in the head much better and heaviness diminished. Slept pretty well and is not so giddy, and has not any sparks before the eyes; bowels open freely; ...can lie upon either side; foul taste in the mouth..."

The prescription is difficult to read, but appears to include zinc and camphor.

"25. ...Has pain in the right side immediately below the nipple lasting half an hour... Has pain also across the loin dull & heavy, not increased by pressure, but most when walking about..."

"27. Has still foul taste in the morning and is now deaf in right ear, as if some one had fired a pistol close to the head..."

"30. Pupil of right eye contracted, but is obedient to light..."


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Helmcken Case Book

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