Collections

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Find a surgeon

The Find a Surgeon directory is a listing of active Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons who meet the requirements of the College's Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Program and have opted to be on the list. This list excludes retired or inactive Fellows.

 

Access to the College collections may be gained by contacting the curator on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (view contact details).

Cowlishaw Collection

The Cowlishaw Collection is a large collection of books on medicine and related subjects, containing many early, classic and rare editions. It was purchased in 1943 from the Estate of Dr Leslie Cowlishaw, a physician and bibliophile in Sydney. The Collection is housed in the Council Room, in purpose-built bookcases donated by the Faculty of Anaesthetists.

To honour the memories of Leslie Cowlishaw and Professor Russell, and to promote greater knowledge of medical history, the College holds the Cowlishaw Symposium every 2 years. Speakers are invited to present papers on topics drawn from the books in the Cowlishaw Collection. A feature of the symposium is the Kenneth Fitzpatrick Russell Memorial Lecture, on a subject related to anatomy and/or medical history. Established in 1996, the symposium is now one of the important events in the College's calendar.

About Leslie Cowlishaw - Leslie Cowlishaw (1877-1943) was a physician, medical historian and book collector. He was born into a wealthy Sydney family and, by the time he entered the medical school in the University of Sydney, he had already undertaken two trips to England and Europe. A third trip was made following his graduation in 1906, and it was at this time that he began seriously to collect books.

In 1908 he set up practice in Cooma (NSW) and married the following year. In 1914 he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and served as medical officer on Gallipoli and in Egypt with the 12th Light Horse Regiment. He was evacuated to England in 1915, where he met Sir William Osler, who greatly encouraged him to expand and strengthen his library, and named him "the bibliophile from the bush". Back in Australia, he set up a new practice at Lindfield, where he (and his books) remained for the rest of his life.

On his death, in 1943, his collection was offered to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, but in the middle of the war they were unable to accept it. News of Cowlishaw's collection came to the attention of Kenneth F. Russell (later to become Professor of Anatomy and Medical History in the University of Melbourne), who contacted the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. The College President, Sir Alan Newton, immediately agreed to the purchase of the collection in its entirety. In 1945 the Cowlishaw Collection was established in the library of the College, but it is now a separate collection. It is one of the finest collections of historical medical books in Australasia.

Professor Russell's catalogue (PDF 4.37MB) of the historical books in the Cowlishaw Collection and the Gordon Craig Library (1979) is now available.

Leonard Murphy Collection

Leonard James Thomas was born in 1914 and educated at University of Melbourne. Having chosen Urology as a career, he applied for the Gordon Craig Travelling Scholarship in Surgery of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. When he was awarded this scholarship, he travelled extensively during 1948 and 1949 in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

He became a Member of the Urological Society of Australasia in 1948, President of that society in 1958 and 1959, and elected a fellow of the society in 1972. He was consultant urologist to the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital from 1958, consultant urologist to the Royal Australian Air Force from 1946 and visiting urologist to the Repatriation Department from 1957.

Early in his medical career he developed a passionate and enduring interest in the history of medicine and became an internationally recognized authority on Leonardo Da Vinci. He wrote many articles in these fields and, over many years, worked on the production of a history of Urology. The, book entitled The History of Urology, was published in 1972 to widespread acclaim. Leonard was later awarded an honorary M.D. from Melbourne University for this work.

Leonard married Beatrice Henderson in 1940 and for 54 years they shared a lively interest in art, literature, music and, particularly, a love of gardening.

Extract of Eulogy, G Joyce (1994)

View a list of books (PDF 60 KB) in the Leonard Murphy Collection by title.

Portraits

The College possesses an impressive collection of portraits, dating from the 18th century onwards. In the main, those represented have been closely associated with the College, especially the presidents. But there are many other portraits of those who have earned a place in the history of medicine.

Many are by well-known artists, including Judy Cassab, Murray Griffin, Robert Hannaford, Ivor Hele, George Lambert, Sir John Longstaff and Joshua Smith. Among the portraits are those of:

  • Sir Hugh Devine, one of the founders of the College, and President 1939-1941 (W.B. McInnes)
  • Sir Thomas Dunhill, Surgeon to King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II (James Gunn)
  • Sir Edward ("Weary") Dunlop, surgeon on the Burma railway (Jill Shalless)
  • Lord Lister, inventor of antiseptic surgery (F. Hodge after W.W. Ouless)
  • Farquhar McCrae, first surgeon in Victoria (Georgiana McCrae)
  • Hamilton Russell, one of the founders of the College (George Lambert)
  • Sir George Syme, one of the founders of the College, and first President 1927-1929 (John Longstaff)
  • Frederic Wood Jones, anatomist and anthropologist (W.B. McInnes).

A fully illustrated catalogue, Portraits at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, by A.W. Beasley, is available from the College.

Surgical instruments

The College has built up a substantial collection of surgical instruments, dating mainly from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these carry important associations, such as a set of scalpels used by Lord Lister. The collection contains both general and specialized sets of instruments. In addition, there are tools and apparatus associated with surgery, such as a Lister Carbolic Spray.

Miscellaneous

In the College collections there is a rich variety of material that the College has acquired through gift, donation and bequest, and especially by presentation. This includes furniture, sculpture, ceramics, glass, silverware and pewter, as well as photographs and works of art on paper.

Events

Open House Melbourne 2016

The College is again opening its doors to the general public  as part of the Open House Melbourne weekend.  A number of buildings not normally open to the public will be participating.  If you would like to be involved or volunteer as a tour guide we would like to hear from you.

For further information please contact the College Curator.

Cowlishaw Symposium

The Cowlishaw Symposium is held every two years to honour the memories of Dr Leslie Cowlishaw and Professor Ken Russell, and to encourage research into the Collection.

Read the 11th Cowlishaw Symposium 2016 Abstracts and Biographical notes (PDF 468KB).

For further information contact the College Curator.

The Heritage Group

The Heritage Group held their first function on Friday 8 April 2011. This group has been established to support the ongoing work of conservation and preservation of the College's Collections. Different items from the College Collection will be presented by a guest speaker.

South Australian Medical Heritage Society

The South Australian Medical Heritage Society was founded in 1983. The original objective was to establish a medical museum in which to display instruments, apparatus and equipment relevant to the medical history of South Australia. But due to financial and other constraints this did not eventuate.

However, an opportunity came through the development of digital media to create a virtual museum. Even though the real objects are scattered across a range of locations, they are brought together as a collection on the Society's website. Each object is imaged, with accompanying description and background information. The website is an active one, receiving 45,609 hits in 2015.

The Society also arranges a number of meetings throughout the year, at which talks are given on themes relating to South Australian medical heritage.

Contact

Telephone: +61 3 9276 7447
Email: college.curator@surgeons.org