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Letter from Dr. Anna Degenring to Dr. Mary Riggs Noble, describing her medical missionary work at Vellore Medical College in Vellore, India.

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“Why I Want to Go to Arabia”: Early Medical Missionaries in the Middle East

Anna Degenring graduated from Woman’s Medical College in 1904.  Degenring entered Woman’s Medical College for the sole purpose of becoming a medical missionary, and her education was funded by the Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of New Jersey.  She had previously trained as a nurse.  In 1906, she was sent as medical missionary to Vellore, India, by the American Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.  In Vellore, she worked at the American Baptist Mission Hospital for Women and Children. The hospital began a small dispensary in 1900, set up by Dr. Ida Scudder, and by 1902, it had grown to 40-bed hospital.  Degenring was also a professor at the Vellore Medical College, where she taught Indian students prevention and care of children’s diseases.  She took a leave to come home and when she returned to Vellore in 1923, she became superintendent of the hospital and remained there until 1936, when she retired.

Degenring’s letter describes in detail the nature of the work she performed as a medical missionary in Vellore.  Mary Riggs Noble, also a medical missionary, served as a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Ludhiana in Northern India.  Dr. Noble sent letters to several medical missionaries in India concerning what sort of work they did and how their work was received by local people. Degenring’s response seems similar to those of other medical missionaries, enforcing the idea that their work in India was important and necessary.

Creator: Degenring, Anna

Contributor: Noble, Mary Riggs, 1872-1965

Language: english

Item Number: a039_003

Pages: 2

Size: 20.3X25.2

Physical Collection: Papers of Mary Riggs Noble, M.D., [1910-1955] (ACC-039), ACC-039

Finding Aid:

Link to OPAC Record:

Cite this source: Title of document, date. Early Medical Missionaries in the Middle East: Why I Want to Go to Arabia. Doctor or Doctress?: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians. The Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections. Philadelphia, PA. Date of access.

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania

Missionaries, Medical--India

Women missionaries

Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania -- Alumni and alumnae

Vellore (India)