‘Ladies Guides’: women’s medical advice from the 19th and 20th centuries

In most households, the person who recognises an illness, calls the doctor and cares for the patient is still probably a woman.

In the 19th and early 20th century, women were expected to be ‘modest’ and not admit to ‘too much’ knowledge about sex or bodies, even though they provided the majority of healthcare in their homes, often suffered from bearing too many children and took direct responsibility for their care. Where doctors were too expensive or too far away, women would also be responsible for diagnosing and treating illness and trauma.

They sought the information they needed in books. Our collection demonstrates how what Tasmanian women were ‘supposed’ to know changed over time, from recipes for ‘toad ointment’ and blood-letting to the right to understand conception and contraception.

"Ladies Guides" is one of our curated displays.

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