Ida Sophia Scudder

1870-1960. Missionary doctor and founder of the Christian Medical College at Vellore in South India. Born in Ranipet in then Madras Presidency where her father, Dr. John Scudder, was in the North Arcot mission of the (Dutch) Reformed Church of America, she was at first determined not to be a missionary. She was on only a short-term commitment to India, really to be near her sick mother, when in 1893 she received a “call” which was not the least remarkable feature of a remarkable life. Three different men came to her door, asking her to come and attend to their respective wives in childbirth; they refused the services of any male doctor, such as her father, preferring rather that their wives die. Ida could do nothing, and the wives died; but the experience sent her home to America to study medicine and commit her life to service for India and its women. She returned as a doctor in 1900 and opened a hospital at Vellore. Later she began a nursing school and, in 1918, the medical college for women. This involved a great fund-raising campaign in America. A great new hospital arose and, at a separate site, the college, which later (1947) accepted men students as well, affiliated with the full Madras University medical course (1950) and was one of the outstanding interdenominational Christian institutions of Asia.