Medicine in 1860s Victoria

The Professionals

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Doctors did not usually advertise their services in the Victoria newspapers, other than with a simple announcement when they arrived in town or moved to new offices. Dentists were more likely to advertise. Dr. Cool, having arrived and stayed a fortnight, left for the United States, though later newspaper ads promised he would soon return and advised patients to make appointments.


August 15, 1866 Click for reference data

There were several doctors in Victoria (at least part of the time) in the 1860s. One of the earliest to arrive, and perhaps the most famous, was Dr. J. S. Helmcken.

There were also several pharmacists, druggists and apothecaries in the area, dispensing medicines of all kinds, from doctor's prescriptions to patent medicines. Some of these continued in business in Victoria for many years.


February 6, 1862 Click for reference data


Dr. Clerjon from Paris advertised his services as an "accoucheur", a male obstetrician. In the nineteenth century doctors were beginning to take over the role long played by the midwife, a controversial change.


A Guide to Health (1846) says this about male obstetricians:

"We hazard the assertion, unpopular as it may be, that the presence of a physician is no more necessary to the safe delivery of ninety-nine cases in a hundred in childbirth, than it is when a healthy woman is eating wholesome fruit. ... Did females know the ignorance, the untimely and rash interference with the unwieldy hands of doctors, the exposure, the rash attempts to accomplish delivery, the injury done by bleeding, minerals, ergot, and instruments,—I state, did they know all this, the serpentine charm which now unfortunately deludes them would be broken, and they would shrink with disgust and horror at the very thought of employing males in parturition or child-birth."


Man-Midwife (1793) Click for reference data

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