American Women Missionary Doctors Discussion/Sept. 1997


American Women Missionary Doctors Discussion/Sept. 1997

Query From Suzanne Thurman 16 Sept 1997

Hi, I am in the initial steps of planning my next research project. I am interested in the intersection of women, religion, and medicine in American culture. I have been introduced to the topic of women missionary doctors, but have not located much that has been published. I've found one article on British women as missionary doctors and things on male missionary doctors. Is there much out there on this topic? Are any of you working on this? I'd really like to hear from you if you are or if you know someone who is. Thanks.


From Gina Morantz-Sanchez 17 Sept 1997

Good primary source material at Women in Medicine Collection of the Medical College of Pa. Also see Chaff, et al. _Women in Medicine_ annotated bibliography.

From Sarah Buck 17 Sept 1997

The following articles from Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel, eds., _Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance_(Bloomington,Indiana U Press, 1992) might be helpful:

Birkett, Dea "The White Woman's Burden" in the "White Man's Grave," "The Introduction of British Nurses in Colonial West Africa"

Flemming, Leslie A. "A New Humanity: American Missionaries' Ideals for Women in North India, 1870-1930"

Jacobs, Sylvia M. "Give a Thought to Africa: Black Women Missionaries in Southern Africa"

From Allison Hepler 17 Sept 1997

Contact the Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine located at what used to be the Medical College of Pennsylvania and is now something like "Allegheny Hospitals." Its first incarnation was as a Woman's Medical College. It's in Philadelphia....Also, Kristen Gleeson who works at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia did a dissertation on missionary women and might be a good contact. Oh, and I have letters (more like newsletters) from a woman physician from Farmington, Maine (where I teach) who did missionary work. Contact me if you want more information.

From Virginia A. Metaxas Quiroga 17 Sept 1997

...I have been working on a biography of Esther Pohl Lovejoy, who was president of the American women's Hospitals from 1919-1967, and in looking through archival materials on the AWHs, I noticed that many of the women doctors who served in the 1920s and 1930s came from missionary backgrounds. The papers of the American Women's Hospital organization are located in the Medical College of Pennsylvania archives, in Philadelphia, and you might contact someone there to order the published directory of the collection. Feel free to contact me for further thought on your subject.

From Stephanie M. Pilachowski 17 Sept 1997

Have you considered the Medical Mission Sisters--a Roman Catholic religious congregation of women which had to fight for the right to doctors?

From Rev. Linda Morgan Clark, Mth 17 Sept 1997

I'm working on the wives of the male missionaries to the Kansas Methodist Missions in the 1830s to 1860s. Haven't run across any women missionary doctors however. You don't mention a time period, but I'd venture to say that your best source of original documents would be the archives of the various denominations. If you need help locating those, let me know.

From Margaret Susan Thompson or 18 Sept 1997

There is a *ton* of information on missionary doctors in the archives of a variety of congregations of Catholic sisters. Check in particular with the Medical Mission Sisters, whose founder--Dr. Anna Dengel--was herself a physician, and Maryknoll--particularly the story of Sr. Mary Mercy (the biography is "Her Name is Mercy"). The Maryknoll archives are at Maryknoll, NY (near Ossinning), and the Medical Mission archives are in Philadelphia. If you need addresses for these congregations, they are in the "Official Catholic Directory", or contact me directly. Maryknoll is on the web; you can find the URL--along with those of other congregations of women with missionary doctors --on Sistersite ...at

From Susan L. Smith Susan L. Smith@UAlberta.Ca 18 Sept 1997

Regarding the query on American women missionary doctors, Connie A. Shemo (a graduate student at SUNY-Binghamton) is doing some interesting work on Western women medical missionaries to China, 1870-1930. You may also be interested in the work of Maneesha Lal on western medicine and women in India (See Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Spring, 1994). Finally, you might consider the issue of medical missionary work within the U.S., something I discuss in my work on the Alpha Kappa Alpha Mississippi Health Project (See chpt. 6 of _Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women's Health Activism in America, 1890-1950_).

From Lynn Japinga 19 Sept 1997

The Reformed Church in America, though a tiny denomination, had a significant missionary presence in some places and some interesting women doctors. Ida Scudder in India, and several others in the Middle East. I can give more details privately if the poster is interested. The RCA archives at New Brunswick Seminary, New Brunswick, New Jersey would have a lot of material about these women, and probably many of their letters and personal papers.

From Loni Bramson-Lerche 19 Sept 1997

...The two following titles are by 20th century women missionaries and are written for a popular market, but I found them interesting:

Frankel de Corrales, Jeanne and Margaret K. Bates _Forget-Me-Not Nicobar_

West, Marion _Letters From Bonaire_

From Joan R. Gundersen 23 Sept 1997

St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota is the repository for the papers of a number of "old China hands" including women missionaries. They would be a good source for looking for missionary doctors. Similarly, the Archives of the Episcopal Church (on the grounds of the Episcopal Seminary in Austin, Texas) has files on women medical missionaries.

From Lesley Hall 22 Sept 1997

Has anyone mentioned Kate Marsden's _To Outcast Siberian Lepers_? Do missionaries going to particularly trackless parts count as explorers? There were a group of women---Francesca French, Mildred Cable, and I think the sister/cousin of one of them---who went to Central Asia in (?) early 20thC as missionaries and wrote several books in various combinations of authorship.

From Maria Elena Raymond 24 Sept 1997

You might try the Presbyterian Mission Library in New York City; the Dundee Museum and Fine Arts Galleries in Dundee, Scotland (there were Am. and British missionaries there); The Mission Research Library in New York City; the Women's Foreign Mission of the Church of Scotland; the Stirling Library of Yale U at New Haven, CT; the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly the China Inland Mission)...possible contact is through the Journal of the Central Asia Society; the Theosophical Societies in London and in India; and the Library of the Royal Geographical Society.

See also Dr. Susie Rijnhart's _With Tibetans in Tent and Temple_(Fleming H. Revell Co., Chicago, 1901); Isabel Robson's _Two Lady Missionaries in Tibet_(London: S.W. Partridge & Co.); Kenneth Latourette's _A History of Christian Missions in China_ (Macmillian, 1929).

From Tim Hodgdon or 24 Sept 1997

Dean Gundersen's message...reminds me that Claremont, California, is the retirement home of many "old China hands" and might prove an excellent place to conduct oral history, if that might be part of your project.