About Archives RCH

  • The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Archives serves as the hospital’s corporate memory by collecting and preserving the hospital’s cultural heritage and unique identity. 

    The role of the Archives is to support the various business, educational, research and patient care activities of the hospital, including its administrative recordkeeping requirements; educating staff and students on the traditions of the hospital; providing a sense of identity to the hospital community; support for public affairs, fundraising and community engagement campaigns; and providing research services.

    The collection provides wonderful insight into the diverse activities of the hospital through the years and includes both historical and contemporary materials. 

    Thanks to the support of the RCH Foundation, the RCH Archives is currently involved in the development of the Visual History Bank which will give prominence and provide access to the RCH collections and be a valuable resource for the 150th Celebrations in 2020. 

    RCH past

    Our identity

    1870 - The "Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children", opened by Drs William Smith and John Singleton.

    1872 - The hospital changed its name to the "Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children".

    1953 - The hospital received Royal Assent to change its name to "Royal Children's Hospital", after seven years of lobbying by the hospitals dedicated committee.

    1986 - The Murdoch institute is founded with a generous bequest from the Murdoch family.

    1988 - The Royal Children's Hospital Foundation (for fundraising) is established.

    1995 - As part of an overall Victorian government strategy, The RCH and RWH merge as the "Women's and Children's Health Care Network".

    2000 - The hospitals research institute and the Murdoch Institute merge to become the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI).

    The Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children

    RCH past

    Our places

    1870 – First site of the Children’s Hospital located at 39 Stephen Street South (now 49 Exhibition Street) Melbourne (see image).

    1872 – Children’s Hospital moved to bigger premises at 13 Spring Street, Melbourne.

    1876 - Children's Hospital moved to the former home of famous Melbourne judge Redmond Barry on the corner of Pelham and Rathdowne Streets, Carlton with 24 beds.

    1878 - An Infectious Diseases Pavilion opens.

    1884 - The Brighton Convalescent Cottage opens in Holyrood St.

    1898 - A new Outpatients building opens in Drummond St.

    Premises at 39 Stephen st South, now 49 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

    RCH past

    Our places

    1903 - New medical wards open in the "Princess May Pavilion" on the corner of Pelham and Drummond streets, and babies are admitted for the first time (see image).

    1907 - The new three storey John Robertson nursing home opens in Rathdowne St.

    1912 - A new administration block with medical staff accommodation opens in Pelham St. and the Pathology laboratory is rebuilt.

    1914 - New surgical wards, "Edward Wilson Pavilion", opens.

    Princess May Pavillion

    RCH past

    Our places

    1921 - The hospital opens the first babies ward in Melbourne. A special gymnasium and treatment room for Physiotherapy is provided.

    1930 - A 100-bed orthopaedic campus is opened in Mt Eliza caring for children with tuberculosis, osteomyelitis and infantile paralysis.

    1948 - 10 acres in Royal Park is designated by the government as the site for the new Children's Hospital.

    1962 - The first patients are transferred to the newly completed hospital at Parkville.

    The site for the new Royal Children’s Hospital

    RCH past

    Our places

    1963 – Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the new Royal Children’s Hospital at Parkville.

    1973 - The Mount Eliza Orthopaedic Section closes after 41 years.

    1973 - The new North-West building at Parkville opens.

    1984 - 3 East Adolescent Ward established for patients over 14 years of age.

    2006 - Children's Neuroscience Centre opened. A GP clinic is established near the Emergency Department.

    2008 - Children's Bioethics Centre opens. The RCH Immunisation Drop-in Centre officially opened in October.

    Queen Elizabeth opens the new Royal Children's Hospital

    RCH past

    Our people

    1870 - Mrs Frances Perry is elected as the first President of a ladies Committee of Management.

    1875 - Mrs Sarah Bishop is Matron until 1898 (see image).

    1891 - The first Honorary Pathologist, Dr. C.H. Mollison is appointed.

    1898 - The hospital accepts its first female doctor - Mary Cowan.

    Mrs Sarah Bishop is matron of The Royal Children's Hospital until 1898

    RCH past

    Our people

    1902 - Dr. William Snowball is nominated as the first paediatric representative to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

    1902 - The first Honorary Dermatologist, Dr. A Finch Noyes, is appointed.

    1914 - Dr. Reginald Webster is appointed as the first salaried Pathologist.

    1933 - Mrs. Ella Latham (later Lady Latham) is elected president of the Committee of Management.

    1944 – Dr. Elizabeth Turner appointed as first female Medical Superintendent (see image).

    1949 - Dr. Vernon Collins is appointed as the first Medical Director.

    Elizabeth Turner becomes the first female Medical Superintendent of The Royal Childrens Hospital

    RCH past

    Our people

    1954 – Lady Elisabeth Murdoch (Dame Elisabeth) is elected president of the Committee of Management.

    1962 -  Miss Joan Gendle is appointed Lady Superintendent of Nursing.

    1965 – Mrs. Patricia Mackinnon (Dame Patricia) is elected President of the Committee of Management.

    1965 - Dr. L.E.G. Sloan is appointed Medical Director (see image).

    Dr. L.E.G. Sloan is appointed Medical Director

    RCH past

    Our teaching

    1878 - Organised training of nurses begins and a uniform is introduced (paid for by nurses).

    1879 - A three year training course for nurses is introduced for which a "Certificate of Competence" is awarded. The first medical students are accepted at the hospital.

    1887 - The hospital is officially recognised as a training school for nurses.

    1889 - Nurse training formally begins.

    1958 - The new Nurse's Home on the Parkville site opens with nurses commuting by a special bus to Carlton.

    1987 - Final graduates from the last RCH School of Nursing.

    Organised training of nurses begins at the RCH

    RCH past

    Our events

    1874 - The first "Hospital Sunday" appeal results in £223, much of which came from State schools.

    1900 - A 3 week long bazaar is held at the Exhibition Buildings to raise building funds for the hospital. New kitchens were built.

    1931 - The Good Friday Appeal is founded by the staff at the "Sporting Globe".

    1957 - Channel 7 joins the Good Friday Appeal, televising the event as an all-day telethon (see image).

    1970 - The RCH celebrated 100 years.

    2006 - First Run for the Kids.

    Channel 7 joins the Good Friday Appeal

    RCH past

    Our achievements

    1897 - The hospital is the first public hospital in Melbourne to open a Radiology department under Dr. Herbert Hewlett.

    1924 - The Auxiliaries provide a canteen for parents in the Outpatients Department.

    1948-1950. Chemotherapy used for the first time on leukemia patients, in the world’s first controlled trial of the drug by Dr John Colebatch (see image).

    Chemotherapy used for the first time on leukemia patients, in the world’s first controlled trial of the drug by Dr John Colebatch

    RCH past

    Our achievements

    1970 - The hospital’s neonatal unit discovers new treatment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which saves the lives of hundreds of premature babies. A Handicapped Children's Centre is established.

    1973 - Rotavirus, the cause of a deadly form of severe gastroenteritis, discovered by Ruth Bishop (see image).

    1975 - Conjoined twins (Foo) from Singapore are successfully separated (Peter Jones) followed by Melbourne conjoined twins Grant and Andrew Priestly (Nate Myers).

    Rotavirus discovered by Ruth Bishop

    RCH past

    Our achievements

    1977 - Ultrasound was introduced in 1977 after Radiologist Valerie Mayne secured funding to purchase the Australian made Octoson machine.

    1988 - Michael Sofoulis undertakes the first heart transplant on a child.

    1994 - Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment was first used at The RCH in 1994.

    1995 - First liver transplant performed on 10-month-old Jordyn Griffin.

    2009 - The RCH team successfully separates conjoined twins Krishna and Trishna in 32 hour surgery.

    2009 - Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) implemented nationally for the first time. (Pilot in 2004).

    2010 - The RCH was awarded prestigious Committee for Melbourne, Melbourne Achiever Award.

    MRI equipment was first used at the RCH in 1994

    RCH Present

    2005- Funding announced for new hospital, to be constructed on a site neighbouring the current hospital.

    2007- The RCH Chairman Tony Beddison AO, Premier John Brumby and Minister for Health Daniel Andrews unveil plans for a new RCH building and turn the first soil on the new site in Flemington Road.

    2011- Opening of new RCH building opens at 50 Flemington St, Parkville.

    The Royal Children's Hospital building opened in 2012