A portrait of Dr. Clara Swain.
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“Why I Want to Go to Arabia”: Early Medical Missionaries in the Middle East
Clara Swain graduated from Woman’s Medical College in 1869 and was the first graduate of Woman’s Med to become a medical missionary. She was the second woman who applied to Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church for a position as a missionary doctor and the first one to be accepted. The director of the girls’ orphanage of the Methodist Mission in Bareilly, India, had requested a female physician to aid the village. Swain accepted the position and arrived in Bareilly January 20, 1870. Swain believed it was important to train local women to help assist her with patients. She began teaching them lessons, spending two to three hours a day with her students, preparing them for the “examination of fourth-grade doctors,” supervised by two civil surgeons and an American physician. While there had been resistance to Western medicine (and religion) by some of the native people, the Methodist Mission was given a property on which to build medical facilities. In early 1872, Swain moved over to the new property, and by May 1873, a dispensary building was erected. By January 1874, the first in-house patients were treated at the new dispensary and hospital. The completed hospital, known as the Clara Swain Hospital, was the first hospital for women in India.
Dr. Clara Swain was the first graduate of Woman’s Medical College to become a medical missionary. She treated patients, trained local women to be her assistants, and opened a new hospital in Bareilly, India, in 1874.
Creator: J.W. Hurn
Item Number: p0180
Physical Collection: Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania: Photograph Collection. 1850-present. (ACC-AHC1), ACC-AHC1
Finding Aid: http://archives.drexelmed.edu/collect/guide/photo.php
Link to OPAC Record: http://innopac.library.drexel.edu/search/c?SEARCH=ACC-AHC1
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. http://lcdc.library.drexel.edu/islandora/object/islandora:1862
Swain, Clara A., 1834-1910