Dr. Anandibai Joshee |First Woman Doctor in India,1886. (Part I)

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Hey guys! we are back with our second column for this Saturday with two ladies. Yeah, you are right, we don’t have one first woman doctor in India, they are two graduated in the same year 1886. however, they have faced their situations very differently, and the most interesting part of this story is one woman form east India and the second woman from west India. one is Bengali “সে বেঙ্গালি মেয়ে”, the other one Marathi “ती एक मराठी मुलगी आहे”.

The first woman physician Anandibai Gopalrao Joshee alongside Kadmabini Ganguly in India. both the women are exceptional one, it is hard to get both of them in one post. that’s why we decided to give you the experience of both the journies one by one.

The First Indian Woman who had an education in a foreign land and become one of the first female Doctors in India in 1886, Dr. Anandibai. Around 114 years back from now, India got two female doctors.

Here is the story of मराठी मुलगी Yamuna, who was born on 31 March 1985 Kalyan Bombay, Maharastra. she was born and brought up with an orthodox family. At 9, she had married to Gopalrao Joshee, who is almost trice of her age and also a Widower. Gopalrao had one condition when he married to the Yamuna, that she would continue her education even after marriage. after the marriage, Yamuna got a new name Anandibai Gopalrao Joshee as per Marathi tradition. At that time, when education is not the concern to the society neither for boys nor for girls, at that time her husband was too obsessed with her studies. He was the man behind this uncommon story and she was the lead.

After 5 years, she gave birth to her son. however, he was not able to survive more than 10 days due to a lack of medical facilities. At that time, It was so hard for a woman to get a check-up from a male doctor when she was pregnant, they rather preferred to die than to had a checkup. This was time, she wanted to do something for the society and she decided to pursue medicine for this she leaves India and become the first Indian who had studied abroad.

That was the time when she and her husband faced a literal buycott from the family and society. Her husband has a job in post office so he gets many transfers but one of his transfer is the turning point of his life as well his wife’s life which land him to Serampore. Anandibai got an opportunity to addressed the Serampore college hall, where she speak about why she wanted to be a doctor and wanted to study in America. She said

“As a rule we Indian women suffer from innumerable trifling diseases, unnoticed until they grow serious … fifty percent die in the prime of their youth of disease arising partly through ignorance and loathsomeness to communicate of the parties concerned, and partly through the carelessness of their guardians or husbands.”

After her speech, she has got huge support from the public and her determination landed to a foreign land. She had promised, she would not leave her religion and never convert to Christianity.

After all odds finally, she got admission to the first medical college of the world, Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania founded in 1850. now, this is known as Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia. You know what, there was also the real letter which Anandibai send to the college for admission request on 18 June 1883. Those who want to study in a foreign land still help you to get the idea of how to write a letter of request. please check it out, the original copies here. Her application got accepted and she has got the admission.

Gopalrao sailed her wife Anandi from Calcutta to Newyork on April 17, 1883, where she lived with Mrs. Carpenter who suggested her Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. They have relationships like aunt and niece, she lived like a family member in Carpenter’s family. After 3 years, She has completed her graduation at 21 in 1886. Despite all the odds, she is an inspiration to all the women and young girls, who wanted to study abroad.

Sociologist Meera Kosambi tries to figure out Anandi’s viewpoint in her article “Retrieving a Fragmented Feminist Image”. Where she revealed her husband’s treatment. In a letter that Anandi wrote while studying in America, she tells her husband that

“It is very difficult to decide whether your treatment of me was good or bad … It seems to have been right in view of its ultimate goal; but, in all fairness, one is compelled to admit that it was wrong, considering its possible effects on a child’s mind.”

Reference: Retrieving A Fragmented Feminist Image

She become a doctor when she actually wanted to become doctor, it is all because of all her own past experiences which she has faced when she was pregnant.

After completing her graduation on March 11, 1886, she has got an opportunity to serve Indian land immediately, she got an offer for a physician in charge of Albert Edward Hospital in the princely Indian state of Kolhapur.

Kesari editor Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak congratulatory message.

“I know, how in the face of all the difficulties you went to a foreign country and acquired knowledge with such diligence. You are one of the greatest women of our modern era. It came to my knowledge that you need money desperately. I am a newspaper editor. I do not have a large income. Even then I wish to give you one hundred rupees.”

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak message to Anandibai

and Also Queen Victoria sent her Congratulation for the completion of her education to the dean of the college.

However, she did not have served there for long. she caught by tuberculosis due to which she died just a month before her 22nd birthday. Mrs. Carpenter requested to Gopalrao to send ashes of Anandibai, he accepted her request and sent his wife’s ashes to America.

Mrs. Carpenter had a headstone at Poughkeepsie, New York, which summarizes the story of Anandibai Joshee M.D. (1865-1887): First Brahmin Woman to Leave India for an Education.

Now a day Covid-19 has a huge impact on our lives. Medical science and physicians serve in clinics and instruct medical students of both sexes. Indeed, Anandibai is always being an inspiration to the young generation and society, Even more than that who wish to go abroad.

So guys! Our first Marathi woman landed in America in 1883, who becomes a doctor at 21 with First class of the world’s first medical college for women’s. however, her achievements are still uncountable, many students who wanted to study abroad.

Now, the question is whether it is really easy to get admission in any worldwide university nowadays. or It takes hard to get there or one needs to be so determined to make barriers into bridges.


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