Crown Street Women’s Hospital: A history 1893-1983

Crown Street Women's Hospital: A history 1893-1983

By: Judith Godden

The history of Sydney's pioneering maternity hospital and 9781743318409 of medical care for women in Australia

Godden, Judith.  (2016).  Crown Street Women’s Hospital: A history 1893-1983.  Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

The history of Sydney’s pioneering maternity hospital is also a history of medical care for women in Australia, from the days of untrained midwives to alternative birthing units.

Crown Street Women’s Hospital was the largest women’s hospital in NSW. Located in the heart of Surry Hills, it was a referral hospital for women throughout the State and a leading teaching centre for obstetricians and midwives. Affectionately known as ‘Crown Street’, an essential part of its role was caring for the poorest and most marginalised women in Sydney.

Crown Street became internationally famous after its success eliminating eclampsia, a major cause of maternal death. It was the centre of the thalidomide scandal, and renowned for its care of newborn babies. From its first years, it sheltered homeless pregnant women; its later practices contributed to the grief of forced adoptions. It was where a stream of women went after botched illegal abortions. In its final years, its Birth Centre revolutionised birth practices in Australia. Among the many individual stories is that of May Yarrowick, who in 1907 became the first formally trained Aboriginal midwife, and that of Edna Shaw, Sydney’s most popular matron.

The announcement of Crown Street’s closure resulted in public uproar and demonstrations in the streets. This comprehensive history reflects Sydney’s rich past, and reveals why Crown Street’s 90 years had such a powerful impact on so many.

Available from Allen & Unwin


Book Review by Christine Cornwell, ACM Midwifery History Project Steering Group

CORNWELL C 2022 Crown St book review AMN Autumn



Publish Date:


Published Year:


Publisher Name:

Total Pages:


ISBN 13:








Submit Your Review You are not allowed to submit review. please Log In

Go to Top