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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 205

Papers Ida Sophia Scudder, 1853-1967 (inclusive), 1888-1960 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, etc., of Ida Sophia Scudder, medical missionary and physician.


  • 1853-1967
  • Majority of material found within 1888-1960

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Ida Sophia Scudder is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


2.09 linear feet ((5 file boxes) plus 11 folders of photographs, 1 oversize folder, 1 folio+ folder)

The Ida Sophia Scudder papers processed in 1974 contain very little personal information. They consist mainly of photographs (of Ida Sophia Scudder, the Scudder family, Vellore Christian Medical College and hospital), and printed materials: speeches, pamphlets, and newsclippings, many of them pertaining to the hospital and the medical school. A portion of the collection is devoted to Dr. Ida Belle Scudder, a niece of Ida Sophia Scudder, who joined her aunt in India in 1931 and eventually became head of radiology at Vellore. There is only a small amount of correspondence in this part of the collection.

The additional papers received in 1975 contribute a great deal to the completeness of the collection. The family correspondence gives an excellent picture of the relationships of Ida Sophia Scudder with her parents and her brothers. Letters to Scudder from school friends and fellow missionaries are voluminous; she corresponded with many of these people until her death. Several diaries and notebooks, as well as printed and typescript material by and about Scudder, round out the collection and give an almost uninterrupted picture of her life.

The new papers also contain a small amount of information, mostly printed, about Ida Sopia Scudder' parents and grandparents. There is additional correspondence for the Ida Belle Scudder series and printed material on the hospital and medical college.

The collection is arranged in four series: Scudder family, Ida Sophia Scudder, Ida Belle Scudder, and Vellore Christian Medical College. Several notebooks and photograph albums have been taken apart for preservation purposes; the contents are now in folders. A copy of the old inventory can be found in the Inventory folder in Box 1.


Like her parents and many other members of her family, Ida Sophia Scudder was a medical missionary in India. She was born in Ranipet on December 9, 1870, the youngest child and only daughter of John and Sophia (Weld) Scudder. When she was eight, her parents took a sabbatical and the family went to live on a farm in Nebraska. In 1887 she was sent to the Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, Massachusetts, where she studied until her mother's ill health forced her return to India in 1890.

During this visit with her family Scudder became aware of the great need for women doctors. She returned to the United States to study medicine at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania (1895), transferring three years later to Cornell Medical College (New York City) as one of the first six women admitted. She received her M. D. degree in 1899 and returned to India in 1900.

Within two years of her return Scudder had built the Mary Taber Schell Memorial Hospital at Vellore; in 1909 a school of nursing for native women was established. Vellore Christian Medical College, the first Christian medical college in South India to train women doctors, was opened in 1918 with Scudder as its principal. Though she retired in 1946, Scudder remained active in the work of the hospital until her death on May 24, 1960, at the age of 89.


The collection is arranged in four series:


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 1194, 1218, 1255, 1311, 1349, 1350, 75-177, 75-230

The papers of Ida Sophia Scudder were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in 1967 and 1968 by Dr. Ida B. Scudder, Mrs. John Scudder IV, Dorothy Clarke Wilson, and the Vellore Christian Medical College Board. Additional papers were given to the Library in 1975 by Dorothy J. Scudder and Dr. Ida B. Scudder.

Related Material:

There is additional material at the Schlesinger Library; see Ida Sophia Scudder Additional papers, 1897-1976 (MC 775).


The following items have been removed from the collection and added to the Schlesinger Library book collection:

  1. Dorothy Clarke Wilson. Dr. Ida; The Story of Dr. Ida Scudder of Vellore. New York, McGraw-Hill, [1959].
  2. Valentin H. Rabe. "Ida Sophia Scudder," Notable American Women (supplementary volume to be published by Harvard University Press).


  1. Box 1: 1-48
  2. Box 2: 49-78
  3. Box 3: 79-103
  4. Box 4: 104-127
  5. Box 5: 128-146

Processing Information

Processed: May 1974

By: Laura J. Talmud.

Re-processed: June 1978

By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Scudder, Ida Sophia, 1870-1960. Papers of Ida Sophia Scudder, 1853-1967 (inclusive), 1888-1960 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The entire collection was re-processed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-24669-76-987).

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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