Dr James Jamieson (1840-1916)

Johnstone, O'Shannessy and Co Limited (estab. 1865, closed 1905)
Circa 1900
Sepia portrait of Dr James Jamieson (1840-1916) medical practitioner, university teacher and health officer. From 1858 studied medicine at the University of Glasgow (M.D., 1862; C.M., 1863), where Joseph Lister, the pioneer of antisepsis, taught surgery.After travelling to Australia and New Zealand as a ship's doctor, Jamieson worked as a general practitioner back in Scotland. In 1868 he moved to Warrnambool, Victoria. James started a practice and was health officer to the municipality and honorary medical officer at the hospital.

In 1877 Jamieson moved to Melbourne. He was honorary physician in the outpatient department of the Melbourne Hospital in 1879-84, then joined the senior staff at the Alfred Hospital, retiring in 1908. In 1885 he succeeded T. M. Girdlestone as health officer of the City of Melbourne amidst a developing sanitary crisis. Jamieson's reports to the health committee and the town clerk Edmund FitzGibbbon included perceptive discussions of the public health and changing social conditions in the city and inner suburbs. His Typhoid Fever in Melbourne (1887) appeared in one of the two worst years for the incidence of this disease. Economic depression in the 1890s, large-scale sanitary engineering and reform of public health administration helped to resolve the crisis, reducing local government's role. Subsequently he worked effectively with the chief medical officer D. A. Gresswell to have tubercular cattle removed from the milk supply in the 1890s. Jamieson retired in 1912, the city's last part-time health officer.

He had lectured at the University of Melbourne (M.D. ad eundem gradum, 1878) in obstetrics and diseases of women and children in 1879-87, and in the theory and practice of medicine in 1887-1908. According to K. F. Russell, Jamieson had a 'Scottish thoroughness at the bedside in his own inimitable way', and was at his best teaching clinical medicine—upon his retirement his students endowed a prize in this subject. He has sometimes been depicted as anti-feminist, for wanting women taught in separate classes, but his daughter Margaret graduated (M.B., 1906; B.S., 1907), and practised at Euroa.
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Object detail

sepia photograph and ink, mounted
16.6 x 11 cm
Accession Number
maker's mark ▫ printed on mount: '_SHANNESSY & COMPANY LIMITED/ _St/Melbourne'
maker's mark ▫ printed verso: 'JOHNSTONE O'SHANNESSY & COMPANY/LIMITED/OIL PAINTING/CRAYON & MEZZO/WATER COLOUR/55 & 57 Collins Street East/...'
Medical History Museum Category


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