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The Reluctant Missionary

One female missionary to Southern India was Ida Sophia Scudder, except she did not plan on being one. Scudder was the granddaughter of Dr. John Scudder, the first American missionary to India. Even though she went to seminary for a time, Scudder was firmly against becoming a missionary until she received the call after seeing three women die in childbirth while visiting her family in India. Then she earned a medical degree from Cornell and established a hospital in Vellore in 1902. For two decades she was the only surgeon. She also made weekly trips to those who could not reach the hospital, and in just a few years she started treating around 40,000 people every year. By 1918 she, along with other female missionaries, had created both a nursing and medical school for women and a new hospital in 1923. Her medical center was one of the largest in Asia at that time and became affiliated with the University of Madras by 1950. Ida Sophia Scudder shows the extensive reach that missions can have.

9 December, 1870 (Ranipet, India) - May 24, 1960 (Kodaikanal, India)

[Christian Medical College, Vellore (Scudder's school) is still open today]


Anderson, Gerald Harry. Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1999

“Changing the Face of Medicine | Ida Sophia Scudder.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, 3 June 2015,



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