Ida Scudder

Ida Sophia Scudder was the granddaughter of the first American medical missionary, Dr John Scudder. He went to India in response to an appeal to do medical and evangelistic work. His seven sons and two of his daughters also went to work in India. Ida is the daughter of the youngest son, John.


She was born in India in 1870 and lived until she was five when the family returned to America. Then when Ida was 12 her Father returned to India and at 14 her mother joined him there, leaving Ida and her siblings in the care of her uncle.  When she was nearly 20, her mother became ill, so she travelled to India to look after her, intending to return as soon as she was better.

One evening, while she was sitting alone in her room reading, she was visited by three men in turn. Each of them wanted her to come and help their wife who was dying in childbirth. She explained that she was not a doctor and knew nothing about childbirth, but she would gladly get her father to come and attend to them. However, each of the men, refused this offer. They would only let a woman see their wives and if Ida would not come, their wife must die. Ida offered to come and help under her father’s direction but even this was refused.

The next morning she was shocked to learn that each of these women had died. She believed that it was a calling from God to begin a ministry to the health needs of the people of India, particularly women and children. Consequently, she went back to America to train as a doctor. On completion of her studies she returned to India and opened a one-bed clinic in Vellore.  This was just the start of her healthcare ministry in India.  You can read more here.

Dr Ida Scudder: Glimpses of my Life and Work in India – an audio recording of Ida telling her story.