Women’s History Month

All-Star #16: Anandibai Joshi

Women’s History Month

All-Star #16: Anandibai Joshi

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.


Anandibai Joshi

First Indian-American Woman Doctor

Anandibai Joshi

First Indian-American Woman Doctor


Born as a high-caste Hindu woman in Bombay, India, Anandibai Joshi realized that she wanted to study medicine after her first child died at only 10 days old.

Joshi was just 13 at the time, having been married at age 9 to an older man, but she believed that with better medical care her child would have survived, so dedicated her life to studying medicine.

At just 19 years old, Joshi left India to pursue her medical studies in 1883, traveling to America by herself to attend the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Upon her graduation, in 1886, she became the first Indian woman to earn a medical degree in America. England’s Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message.

Before she could put her medical degree to use by opening a practice in India, Joshi became ill with tuberculosis and died. Her husband broke with the customs of the time by sending her ashes to be buried in America, in recognition of the time she spent studying medicine here.


  • Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1886


  • Became the first Indian woman to earn an American medical degree
  • Wrote a thesis on “Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindus”
  • Appointed physician-in-charge of the female ward of the Albert Edward Hospital in India

In a speech addressing the lack of female doctors in India, Joshi said, “I volunteer myself as one.”


Photo by Caroline Wells Healey / Wikimedia Commons

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