Jessie Strahorn Aspinall (10 December, 1881 to 25 August, 1953) was the first female junior medical resident at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Sydney. Her four brothers were also doctors.
In 1906 she applied for residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, but her application was initially rejected by the board. Her father took up her cause and had a long letter published in the Syndey Morning Herald early in February. This drew the attention of the public and of many different groups to the rejection of Jessie's application by the hospital. Amid protests from Women's Rights Groups and intense media scrutiny the board reversed its decision on May 2nd. She practiced at RPA until June, 1907, when she was appointed the junior house surgeon at the General Hospital, Hobart. In 1908 Jessie was appointed Resident Medical Officer of the Crown Street Women's Hospital, Sydney, and would progress to become Medical Superintendent of the institution. Eventually Jessie moved into private practice, and had consulting rooms at Lyon's Terrace and Macquarie Street, both in central Sydney. Aspinall also served as the school doctor for The Scots College.
Family background and education
Jessie Aspinall was born in Forbes, the third daughter of the Rev. Arthur Aspinall and his wife Helen, the only one to survive to adulthood. Upon moving to Sydney she studied at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney, Riviere College and Kambala Girls School before earning her Bachelor of Medicine from the University of Sydney.
On 22 June 1915 Aspinall married mining engineer Ambrose William Freeman, to whom she bore 4 children: two sons and two daughters. The family spent two periods living in Malaya. Jessie died of arteriosclerosis. Her ashes were interred in the family grave at the South Head Cemetery.
Jessie Aspinall will be remembered for being one of the first female doctors in general hospitals in Australia, and whose achievements challenged ingrain cultural beliefs about the position of women within society.
Obituaries to Jessie appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and in The Medical Journal of Australia.
- Andrew, Phillipa A (1997) Built To Last: the stories of John and Thomas Aspinall and their descendants. Privately Published.
- ISBN/ISSN 0 646 34463 3: available in the library of The Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney and the State Library of NSW.
- Commonwealth Electoral Rolls (CER)
- Historical Society of New South Wales
- Munro May (1961) In Old Aspinall's Day
- New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages []
- Sands Post Office Directories (1880-1932/33) (POD)
- Sydney Morning Herald 9 February, 1906
- Telephone Directories (TD)
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