Historical information

Used to either irrigate the eye, instill medicated drops or tasks such as wound irrigation or the evacuation of fluid under the skin. Cannulas (or eye droppers as they are commonly called) were used both in homes and hospitals during the late 1880s and the early 1900s and were commonly available at chemists. The long tapered end gave the operator control over the rate of flow of the fluid in the bulb.


Mary Howlett (1840-1922) began practising as a country midwife in 1866 in the western district of Victoria. She qualified as a 'ladies monthly nurse' in 1887 and continued to practise as a nurse and midwife until 1920.She began her six months training at the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital. She was known by many as 'Auntie', and her career spanned more than 50 years. Mrs Howlett's midwifery box and contents were given to Dr Frank Forster, and he donated them to the museum collection in 1993.

Physical description

Canula (or eye dropper) made of glass. Finely tapered at one end, with an open ended bulb at the other end.