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About AMPI

Aims and scope of AMPI | Staff @ AMPI | History of AMPI | Biography of N. David Richards | Publications of N. David Richards | Contact AMPI

Aims and scope of AMPI

AMPI is intended to assist and promote the study of Australian medical history and biography, by providing access to a comprehensive database of medical pioneers, along with educational background material.

AMPI aims to include every Australian doctor up to 1875. This includes doctors who:

  • registered or qualified in Australia before 1875,
  • were resident here before 1875, or
  • came here in a professional capacity before 1875

Those who were only in the last group (mostly professional ship's surgeons) were perhaps not strictly-speaking "Australian", but collectively they contributed a great deal to the exploration and settlement of Australia.

Why 1875?

Dr. Richards, the original compiler, worked mainly on the period from settlement up to 1863 (75 years). However his researches carried him in some cases beyond that date, and the present editor decided to extend the database to 1875 so as to include the first generation of Australian medical graduates.

Having a sharp cut-off date is artificial, but a moment's reflection will show it cannot logically be avoided. There is no reason, however, why we should not go back in time indefinitely, and so medical visitors before settlement have also been included.

The amount of information recorded in AMPI varies considerably from one doctor to another. Some doctors are known only from brief entries in the shipping records or the medical registers, but the lives of many are surprisingly well documented. It is hoped that anyone who has further information about a doctor will contribute data through the facility provided on this web site.

Every effort has been made to identify the sources of information presented in the database. It should be noted, however, that the editor has not always been able to identify the sources used by the original compiler.

Editor of AMPI

Stephen Due B.A.(hons), Grad.Dip.Lib.

Stephen Due is a medical librarian (retired) and amateur medical biographer. His particular interests are colonial medical biography and bibliography. His publications include:

  • Early medical journals of Australia. Med J Aust 1994;161(5):340-2
  • A Bibliography of Australian Doctors at War. Geelong: The Author, 1994
  • John Day : a colonial medical life. J Med Biog 1995;3:99-104
  • Stephen Mannington Caffyn : a colonial literary life. J Med Biog 1996;4(2):148-53
  • Australian doctors at war. Aust Military Med 1997;6(3):10-5 and 1998;7(2):15-20
  • G.E.Morrison : an Australian in China. J Med Biog 1998;6(1):28-34
  • Publications of Geelong and South-Western District Doctors : Settlement to 1880. Geelong Hospital Library, 1999
  • Anzac doctors. Aust Military Med 1999: 8(1): 9-13.
  • Arthur Lynch: parliamentarian, physician and author. J Med Biog 1999;7(2);93-99.
  • Charles Broady Mingaye Syder (1797-1871): medical temperance pioneer.
    J Med Biog 2003 Feb;11(1):21-7

History and development of AMPI

AMPI began with the work of the late Dr. N. David Richards, an English epidemiologist and social historian. During many years of research, he produced a card file containing records of about 2,500 doctors who emigrated from Britain to Australia in the first 65 years after Settlement. This file provided the original data for AMPI, although much has since been added, and the database now contains over 4,500 entries.

Dr. Richards searched systematically through the earliest historical records, as well as records of the voyages of convict and immigrant ships, early medical journals, selected history books, medical directories and medical registers. A vast amount of material passed through his hands, and consequently his card file constituted a substantial record of Australia's medical pioneers.

A typical record in the card file contained the doctor's name, qualifications, year of emigration, and name of ship. Sometimes it included his addresses and positions held in Australia. If an obituary had been found, or a later biography, or if the doctor was mentioned in other sources, these were cited, and additional information was added to the card.

Meanwhile, a design for a medical biography database had been developed by the present editor, an Australian medical librarian then making a special study of early doctors in Geelong. A chance meeting with Dr. Richards, in 1997, ended with a tentative agreement to use this software to computerise the card file, which was eventually shipped to Geelong for this purpose.

In transferring the data from the original cards to the computer, a large amount of editorial work was necessary, and a considerable amount of additional data was added to the database records as work has progressed. In addition, a number of new records were added for doctors not in the original file.

Noel David Richards M.A M.P.H. Ph.D. (1937-1998)

Sociologist, social historian and epidemiologist

Noel David Richards trained as a social scientist at Nottingham University. He became a lecturer at the London Hospital Medical College, and then went to the USA, where he worked at the National Institutes of Health and at Harvard University. He then held various positions in English universities, followed by a period in India as a WHO consultant, before becoming head of the Department of Social Studies at Nottingham University. He retired from this position, to engage in cohort studies at Bristol, later returning to Nottingham University where he joined the Department of Child Health, and was a Senior Research Fellow. He published a wide range of books and articles on socio-medical aspects of nineteenth century Britain, covering topics such as dentistry, health promotion and cancer screening.

His interest in medical sociology generally, and particularly the social history of medicine, was therefore well-established when he began to publish in the field of Australian medical history. His first article in that field appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1987 (see below). He was at that time investigating early medical migration from Britain to Australia, developing a particular interest in medical men who were transported. His card file of early Australian doctors, which later formed the basis of the AMPI database, was a tool developed mainly to study medical migration from the point of view of the social historian. He was still engaged in this work at the time of his death.

David was a keen cricketer and cricket coach. He also served in administrative positions, becoming president of the Nottingham Cricket Club. He played soccer, and enjoyed quizzes, music and travel. He developed a strong attachment to Australia, where he made many friends.

Sources: Pearn J. Outback Medicine. Amphion Press, 1994 (xv); unpublished papers.


Publications by N. David Richards on Australian medical history:

  • Transported to New South Wales: medical convicts 1788-1850. Br Med J 1987;295:1609-12
  • Medium red with a fruity nose...doctors and viniculture in 19th century Australia. J Royal Soc Med 1991;84:678-81
  • Queensland's medical men 1824-1869. In: Pearn J (ed). Health, History and Horizons. Brisbane : Amphion Press, 1992: 193-213
  • Pioneer medical men in Western Australia 1829-1870. In: Winterton P, Gurry D. Impact of the Past Upon the Present : Second National conference of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine, Perth July 1991. Canberra : The Society, 1992:21-5
  • Medical men in Tasmania 1803-1870. In: Atkins S et al (eds). Outpost Medicine : Australian Studies in the History of Medicine : Third National Conference of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine, Hobart, February 1993. Hobart : The Society and the University of Tasmania, 1993: 375-85.
  • Medical convicts to New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land 1788-1818. Med J Aust 1994;161(1):73-4, 76-7
  • To minister to the sick : an historic socio-profile of the medical profession in Northern Australia. In: Pearn J (ed). Outback Medicine : Some vignettes of pioneering Medicine. Brisbane : Amphion Press, 1994:23-42
  • Medical transportees to Australian colonies: 1788-1868. In: Covacevich J et al. History Heritage and Health : Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Conference of the Australian society of the History of Medicine. Brisbane : The Society, 1996
  • Medical men at Norfolk Island : the first settlement, 1788-1814. In: Covacevich J et al. History Heritage and Health : Proceedings of the Fourth Biennial Conference of the Australian society of the History of Medicine. Brisbane : The Society, 1996


Contact AMPI

Email: feedback@medicalpioneers.com


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