Historical publications tell the story of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, our services and our people.

Key points

  • Information about publications relating to the history of the RMH
  • Our historical publications tell the story of our campuses, our services and our people
  • Download A Pillar in the House of Healing and Memories Book
  • Portraits of Care and other books are available for purchase

Our historical publications tell the story of the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) campuses, our services and our people.

Unless otherwise stated, all publications can be purchased for $25.00 plus postage (maximum $13.80 within Australia).

Please contact the Archives Service to purchase any of our historical publications.

Front cover: Portraits of Care
Cover of the book Portraits of Care: A pictorial journey of the Royal Melbourne Hospital: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Portraits of Care: A Pictorial Journey of the Royal Melbourne Hospital: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (2014)

Compiled by Gabriele Haveaux

Medical practices have come a long way in the decades since the RMH first opened its doors in 1848 as Victoria’s first hospital. Two elements have remained a constant through all the modifications, developments and breakthroughs: a sense of teamwork to achieve the best outcomes, and a total focus on patient wellbeing.

Comprising over 150 images, Portraits of Care is a beautiful coffee table book that pays tribute to all those people who have shared this journey over the years, helping to make the RMH one of the world’s best hospitals.

These photographs, which serve as a trigger for the RMH’s corporate memory, represent only a small selection of the images in our archival collection. Those selected highlight the hospital's growth, its discoveries and its people. They are evidence of past practices, equipment and facilities, plus the more routine everyday activities in the care of our patients and their families.

Front cover: Ever Open Door
Cover of the book The Ever Open Door: A history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The Ever Open Door: A history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital (1998)

By Dr Alan Gregory

Since 1848, Melbourne’s first public hospital has been serving all Victorians. From a 10-bed hospital for the poor it has grown into a leading provider of healthcare services and a world-renowned centre for medical research and education.

The foundation stone for Melbourne’s first public hospital was laid in 1846, on the same day as the foundation stone for the Princes Bridge over the Yarra River. Opening its doors in 1848, the hospital was initially known as "The Charity" because originally it treated only the poor. As Melbourne expanded, it grew and survived the ordeals of boom, depression and the severe sanitation problems of the 19th century.

Rebuilt on its original Lonsdale Street site, thanks to the generosity of the Edward Wilson Estate, it moved to its present Parkville site in 1944. The shift was interrupted by World War II and the US Army occupation of the site. Widening its purposes to serve the community, it preserved a tradition of taking cases of need and the hospital was often described as having an ‘ever open door’. As well as Melbourne’s first public hospital, it developed special links with the University of Melbourne as a teaching hospital and as a centre for medical research. The doctors, nurses, allied health and general staff have earned the hospital an international reputation, strongly supported by much voluntary work, and with the financial support of the community.

The Ever Open Door tells the story of this cherished Melbourne institution. Alan Gregory’s fascinating history traces the developments of this great hospital from its most humble beginnings to the modern day. Covering the period 1848-1998, with more than 500 pages of text and 100 historical photographs and illustrations, The Ever Open Door captures the special "spirit of the place" and its rich traditions.

Front cover: People and Places
Cover of the book People and Places: A pictorial glimpse of the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

People and Places: A pictorial glimpse of the Royal Melbourne Hospital (2012)

By Susan Sherson and Arlene Bennett

The story of nursing at the hospital as told in pictures. Published to mark the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the RMH Graduate Nurses’ Association, the images reflect the original aims of the association – to provide and promote friendly relations and cooperation between graduates wherever they were working and to advance the best interest of the nursing profession through education.

Comprising of 100 photographs from our archives, the images give a rare glimpse of some of the places and people that marked the learning experience and lives of the thousands of young nurses who graduated from our nursing school.

People and Places is out of print but may be held in some Victorian public libraries.

Front cover: Being There
Cover of the book Being There: Nursing at 'The Melbourne', Victoria's first hospital.

Being There: Nursing at ‘the Melbourne’, Victoria’s first hospital (2005)

By Susan Sherson

The story starts in the 1840s when Melbourne was a small settlement and funds were raised to provide care for the sick and poor, and interweaves the theme of nursing with the history of Melbourne and Victoria over more than 150 years.

From its beginnings to the present day, the story of nurses at "The Melbourne" is a story of Melbourne, of constant social change, of developing professionalism and women’s rights, of excellence in nursing care and influence that has spread throughout Australia and abroad. It is not exaggerating to say that "Melbourne nurses" have been everywhere and done everything. Some of their extraordinary stories are captured in this book, which also contains an appendix of all nurses who graduated (RMH and MSN – Melbourne School of Nursing) in the formal training years of 1890-1993.

Being There is out of print but may be held in some Victorian public libraries.

Front cover: Mount Royal
Cover of the book Mount Royal: A Social History.

Mount Royal: A social history (1981)

By Jean Uhl

A history of the RMH Royal Park Campus from the early 1850s to the late 1970s. The Mount Royal Hospital was founded in 1853 as the Immigrants’ Aid Society’s Home for the Destitute and in the 1880s was the foremost charitable institution in Melbourne. The book describes how the society managed to run a home for houseless and destitute people, a school for children, a night refuge, a cancer hospital, a soup kitchen as well as provide outdoor and indoor employment for the many ‘souls’ who came to its doors. The story of the major part Mount Royal played in the development of social welfare and institutional care over the years makes fascinating and instructive reading.

Renamed the Royal Melbourne Hospital Royal Park Campus in 2005, today the campus offers extensive aged care, ambulatory care, rehabilitation and community services to the people of the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. Despite numerous name changes throughout its history, the focus of the institution has always been on the welfare of the patients and residents in its care.

Front cover: Kiosk Memories Book
Cover of the book Memories Book: The RMH Kiosk Auxiliary Volunteers.

Memories Book: The RMH Kiosk Auxiliary Volunteers (2010)

By Petrina Dakin

Memories Book looks at the 86-year history of the Kiosk and its final farewell in 2008. The 40-page book includes a brief history, historical photographs and documents, stories on the five Presidents since 1922 and the speeches made at its final farewell. Most importantly, it contains the memories of Kiosk volunteers, reflecting on their experiences whether at the counter, cash register or buying stock, the friendships they made, and the support they gave to patients, visitors and staff, and to each other.

Front cover: A Pillar in the House of Healing
Cover of the book: A Pillar in the House of Healing: A history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Auxiliaries 1922-2002.

A Pillar in the House of Healing: A history of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Auxiliaries 1922-2002 (2002)

By Andria Hutchins

An account of the work of the RMH Auxiliaries which reveals their ingenuity, resourcefulness and creative thinking in raising funds for, and supporting, the hospital. Recorded is the breadth and depth of their work from fundraising to volunteer activities for the comfort of patients, to the conduct of canteen and kiosk for the refreshment of visitors and the public. Of special interest is the significant contribution to the pioneering of social work services in Australian hospitals.

Throughout the years, the Auxiliaries were witness to the most dramatic events in the evolution of the hospital and, although the nature of their work may have been shaped by the shifting environment of the times, the value of their contribution remained steadfast and based on interest, motivation, intensity, single-mindedness and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances. In September 2007, diminishing numbers of auxiliary members and changing approaches to fundraising saw the closure of the Central Council of Auxiliaries to be replaced by the RMH Friends and support groups.

Contact us
Archives Office
The RMH Royal Park
Level 1 Building 1
34-54 Poplar Rd, Parkville, Victoria