South Australian Medical Heritage Society Inc

Website for the Virtual Museum


Past meetings

About the

Galleries of the Virtual Museum

Main Galleries

Hospitals,other    organisations
Individuals of    note

Small Galleries


Ethnic medicine
     - Aboriginal
     - Chinese
     - Mediterran

Some Outstanding Medical Collectables in Adelaide

The medical heritage items in South Australia are many, varied and often document unique hallmarks of medical history and development. Unfortunately they are stored at numerous sites.

Each teaching and most private hospitals have valuable items representing individual themes and topics, such as syringes, radiology equipment, first aid splints and surgical instruments. Possibly the first X ray of a hand taken in Australia and the donation letter from Sir Mark Oliphant is located in the Radiology Department of the Flinders Medical Centre .


X-ray of Professor (later Sir) William Bragg's hand - one of the first x-rays taken in Australia in 1897 (there are rival contenders in Newcastle and Launceston earlier the same year)


Letter from Sir Mark Oliphant donating same


One of the earliest X-ray machines and vacuum tubes is at the Women and Children’s hospital. Professor Bragg’s Ruhmkoff coil and his tubes are preserved in the Physics Department of the University of Adelaide .


There is a large collection of early mobile X ray machines (1930-1970) stored at the Glenside Hospital . The letters and newspaper articles reporting the role of Fauldings in bringing the first X ray tubes to South Australia are in the Faulding’s Museum of Mayne Pharmaceuticals Salisbury






Similarly scattered are other important items such as early syringes and surgical instruments. An 18th century ship’s surgeon’s kit is presently in a private collection in a Middleton Hotel.

Ship’s doctor’s kit in the collection of the Middleton Tavern


A unique collection of early first aid splints for fractured limbs (19thcentury) is located at the St. John Museum, at Unley, Adelaide.

It shows a boxed set of 19th.century metal immobilising splints for various limbs and sizes.


Some of the first Electrocardiographs recorded on charcoal blackened discs by Don Both and Professor Kerr Grant in the 1930s are stored in the QEH Hospital


The first surgical intestinal stapler used in Australia is stored in Calvary Hospital



The South Australian Medical Heritage Society (SAHMS), was established and incorporated in 1983. Its continuing aim is to establish a dedicated medical heritage museum which could collect and exhibit, even if temporally loaned, such items which are relevant to the development of medical science and practice. The museum itself may take some time.

Meanwhile in order to provide a realistic groundwork for such a process the society, with the help of the S.A. Heritage Trust created a listing protocol to locate and document such important items. The intention is to provide a record and listing of valuable items which are scattered over South Australia . This Society would be grateful if archivists and curators of various metropolitan and country hospitals would make contact and suggest suitable heritage items for listing. Some items currently listed have been illustrated. The objective is not acquisition but listing and documentation.