Historical information

The wearing of gown became mandatory in all operating theatres from the 1900s and in 1914-1918 during the Spanish flu epidemic. During the 1930s gowns were worn when attending polio patients. From 1945 onwards, midwifery hospitals required all staff working in labour wards, premature nurseries, and special care (observation nurseries) to wear gowns when in contact with mothers or babies. During the 1950s the gown regime helped to combat the spread of golden stph in midwifery hospitals.


Dr Mitchell Henry O'Sullivan worked in the Victorian country town of Casterton as a general practitioner from 1919 until his death in 1977. He also practiced obstetrics. His son, Dr David More O'Sullivan donated his obstetric bag and its contents to the College in 1999. The bag and contents are a unique time capsule of the type of instruments and pharmaceuticals used in the inter-war period.

Physical description

Cotton gown with high round collar and long sleeves. Gown is made in two sections with a centre doubled seam. The collar is made to button at the neck, but the button on this gown is missing. Wrists of gown are fastened with flat mother of pearl buttons. Open at back with six ties. Laundry tag taped to right side of gown.