Philadelphia Women’s History Month All-Stars

All-Star #16: Anandibai Joshi

Philadelphia Women’s History Month All-Stars

All-Star #16: Anandibai Joshi

Scientists. Activists. Lawyers. Artists. The first computer programmers.

The history books may have neglected some of the incredible Philly women who changed the world over the last 200-plus years—but we have not.

While it shouldn’t take a national observance to put women on our radar, this is one holiday we’re happy to play along with: Every weekday during Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting a local woman whose legacy deserves celebrating—and who continues to inspire us.

Find the full list below—and also check out the incredible women we included in our Black History Month All-Stars roundup—like Marian Anderson, Sadie Alexander and Caroline Still Anderson.


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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