Appointment Book

Santoro Collection

Italian Historical Society, Melbourne

This book records details of the patients seen by Dr Soccorso Santoro between April 1957 and December 1958, including their surname and the amount charged for the consultation. The red crosses mark migrants who have recently arrived in Australia, and the name of their ship is also noted. Dr Santoro trained at the University of Genoa in Italy and began a medical practice in Collins Street, Melbourne, soon after arriving in 1930. The consultations recorded in this book either took place at this practice or at the homes of his patients, most who were migrants from Italy.

As his son, Dr George Santoro, recalls: ‘My father took me on home calls to the Italian families around Carlton. They would be roasting coffee or making spaghetti, ravioli, salamis or prosciutto, but all work would cease as the whole family became involved in prolonged conversation with my father about some medical problem. It was unusual for him to complete a home call in under an hour’. Not recorded in the appointment book are the unpaid hours outside consultations. Dr George Santoro remembers that his father’s work was ‘not easy… he spent a great deal of time translating for patients and accompanying them to specialists’. This kind of care reflects the lack of services for non-English speaking migrants at the time.