Welcome to the Auckland Medical History Society.

In 1963 Dr Laurie Gluckman wrote "I wish to draw attention to the desirability of fostering or developing a Society of Medical History".   A group of interested people met in August 1964 and empowered a sub-committee comprising Drs Laurie Gluckman,  James Newman and Edward Roche to develop a set of rules and suggestions for the Society.  These were adopted at the Inaugural Meeting in November 1964 and Dr Edward Roche elected first president.

Dr Laurie Gluckman
Dr James Newman
Dr Edward Roche

The Aims of the Society were defined as the "promotion of an interest and knowledge of medical history through lectures, discussions, exhibitions, or by any other means".  Aspects of the Society’s activities over the years are to be found in the booklet "50th Year Celebrations of Medical History in Auckland 1964-2014 ".  AMHS Life Members

Meetings are open to members of the health profession and all others with an interest in medical history and heritage - students are especially welcome, learn more... 

AMHS has an interesting annual programme with presentations covering a wide variety of topics related to health history in New Zealand and elsewhere. Covid 19 restrictions have impacted on the frequency and format of meetings during 2020 and 2021. Accordingly we have made changes to the format of meetings  We are focusing on inviting Donations to cover costs.  (Refer website to Donations section)

Speakers come from a variety of professional and other backgrounds, some are currently students of medicine or history. 

Many enjoy the collegiality and networking opportunity of our (usually)  bi-monthly meetings.


Old Auckland Hospital main entrance
(built 1885-87) (ADHB)
A drawing of this building is used in the AMHS logo

Ernest & Marion Davis Library

Our meetings are held at the  the Ernest & Marion Davis Library.

The Ernest & Marion Davis Library opened in 1961 as the main Medical Library for Auckland Hospital. Sir Ernest Davis had donated the building to the Medical Profession in the memory of his wife Marion together with an endowment fund to support the running of the library.

In 1980 the bulk of the books were transferred to the new Philson Library in the School of Medicine. At that time the building was modified to provide Postgraduate facilities which include a Lecture Hall, Dining Room and Meeting Rooms. The remaining space was reorganised to include a collection of Medical Historical books and the acquisition of Historical medical artefacts. This includes two superb collections of ancient Apothecary Jars from James Newman, numerous microscopes, instruments, assorted artworks and ephemera.

In 2014 the building was earthquake strengthened & underwent extensive renovations providing the opportunity to showcase many of the interesting objects held in storage.

The displays of medical, nursing and dental artefacts are a work in progress. While most displays are housed in the centre, some are displayed in the Auckland City Hospital. For example, the John Richards microscope collection is showcased in the Davis Room of the Clinical Education Centre on the 5th floor of the hospital. One of the aims of the displays of artefacts is to emphasise the contribution of Auckland doctors to medicine, e.g. the Hardie Neil display of the broncho-pulmonary segments of the lungs.

Ernest and Marion Davis Library Brochure

James Lister Newman MD (Cam) DPH(Eng) FRCP FRACP 1903-1983

James Newman's family established the James Newman Fund which generously supports the Society.

James Newman was born in London in 1903. Educated at Shrewsbury School, he was a brilliant classics scholar and left Magdalen College, Cambridge with Hons. National Sciences Tripos. After qualifying in Medicine at Kings College Hospital in 1927, he became a Visiting Physician in Chichester and was later given wartime responsibility for the Coventry Ambulance Services.

He emigrated to New Zealand in 1947 to the Department of Health in Whangarei but tired of the bureaucracy and moved to Green Lane Hospital as medical registrar, 1951, then Medical Tutor and Physician there, and later Medical Superintendent, Cornwall Geriatric and Green Lane Hospitals. He championed the cause of the elderly and became known as the “Father of Gerontology” in New Zealand.

For many years, James, was also Editor of the New Zealand Family Doctor, and wrote a weekly Medical Column in the New Zealand Herald until the time of his death on October 17, 1983.

He presented a number of papers to the Society, which is generously supported by the James Newman Fund, established by his family in 1984.

His interest in medical history is given substance in his fascinating collection of old Apothecaries’ Jars which graces the foyer of the Ernest and Marion Davis Library. Read more...