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A speech given by Mary Bruins Allison to her church in September of 1934 about her desire to go to Arabia as a medical missionary and the reasons she feels Arabia needs missionaries to help its people.

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

Mary Bruins Allison graduated in 1932 from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. Mary had dreamed of becoming a missionary, but because she was a woman, could not become a minister. Instead, she chose to become a doctor, inspired by stories she heard at church and from her family. She studied Arabic from 1933-34 at Hartford Theological School in preparation of her missionary life. In 1934, she did her second internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago because her first internship had not included obstetrics, which she need in her career as a medical missionary in the Middle East. In 1934, Allison traveled to Kuwait to work as a doctor. She made house calls to women who were ill and eventually ran a women’s clinic. She treated women of all social classes. Allison wrote letters home, and in her later years composed a memoir about the time she spent as a medical missionary in Kuwait.

Allison knew she wanted to be a medical missionary and was inspired by others like Dr. Ida Scudder, who went to India as a medical missionary in 1900. In her speech, Allison lists the reasons she feels doctors – especially women doctors – are needed abroad. She needed to persuade her congregation to support her mission.

Creator: Allison, Mary Bruins, 1903-

Language: english

Item Number: a215_175

Pages: 2

Size: 21.5 x 27.5cm

Physical Collection: Papers of Mary Bruins Allison, M.D., 1934-1985, ACC-215

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.

Women physicians


Missions to Muslims

Missionaries, Medical--Kuwait

Milwaukee (Wis.)

Arabian Peninsula