James Jamieson (1840-1916) President 1886

Alice Mills
Circa 1880-1909
Mounted sepia portrait photograph of Dr. James Jamieson as an elderly man, depicting his face and upper torso. Underneath the photograph is a handwritten inscription, "James Jamieson President 1886", which relates to his office held within the Medical Society of Victoria. The photographer was Alice Mills. The photograph was originally framed, indicated by tack indentations in backing board.

This item was originally collected by the Medical Society of Victoria (which later became part of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Medical Association). The A.M.A. donated its historical collection of documents and artifacts to the University of Melbourne's Medical History Museum in 1994.

A graduate of Glasgow University, Dr James Jamieson (1840-1916) arrived in Australia 1868. Beginning his practice of medicine in Warrnambool, he later moved to Melbourne in 1877. Jamieson was active in developing the fledging professional association, the Medical Society of Victoria, as President from 1883 to 1887, a lecturer in Medicine at the University of Melbourne in obstetrics and diseases of women and children from 1879-87, and in the theory and practice of medicine from 1887-1908 and most significantly a reformer of the public health system.

While a student in Glasgow, Jamieson was taught by Joseph Lister who introduced new principles of hygiene which transformed surgical practice in the late 1800s. In Australia, Jamieson actively promoted the benefits of the germ theory of disease and Lister's antiseptic reforms which were still viewed sceptically, through journal articles and discussions at the Medical Society of Victoria. As the Medical City Health Officer for Melbourne, 1885 to 1912 he worked for the adoption of these hygienic practices in the Melbourne and Lying-In Hospitals to reduce the high mortality rates caused by overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

Jamieson wanted women taught in separate classes at Melbourne Medical School, a practice not implemented. Women were only admitted to the Medical School in 1887, 25 years after its first lecture and 21 years before women were entitled to vote in Victoria. Jamieson’s daughter Margaret topped the final year honours list in 1907 at the University of Melbourne. Margaret attended the Australasian Medical Congress in 1908, where her father was also a delegate.
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Object detail

sepia photograph and ink, mounted
41 x 50.5 cm
Accession Number
Credit line
Gift of AMA Victoria, 2011
name/inscriptions ▫ below image, by hand: 'JAMES JAMIESON/PRESIDENT 1886'
maker's mark ▫ within image by hand at lr: 'Alice/Mills'
verso: 'L35' and '25'
Named Collection
Medical History Museum Category


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