Anandi Gopal Joshi

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Anandibai Joshi
Dr. Anandibai Joshee, M.D., Class 1886.jpg
A portrait photo of Dr. Anandibai Joshee, M.D., Class of 1886.
Born (1865-03-31)31 March 1865
Kalyan, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died 26 February 1887(1887-02-26) (aged 21)
Pune, Bombay Presidency, British India
Spouse(s) Gopalrao Joshi
A photo of Anandi Gopal Joshi with her signature on it.

Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi (Marathi: आनंदी गोपाळराव जोशी) (31 March 1865 – 26 February 1887) was the first Indian ( Kadambini Ganguly completed her studies much later than Anandibai Joshi) and South Asian women to [1] obtain a degree in Western medicine in 1886. She is also believed to be the first Hindu woman to set foot on American soil.[2]

Early life[edit]

Anandibai was born as Yamuna in Kalyan ( Dist.Thane Maharashtra) in an orthodox wealthy Marathi Brahmin family. Her family used to be the landlords in Kalyan they lost heir riches. At age 9, she was married to Gopalrao Joshi because of the pressure laid by her family, who was a widower almost twenty years her senior. After the marriage, her husband renamed Yamuna to Anandi.

Gopalrao worked as a postal clerk in Kalyan. Later, he was transferred to Alibag, and finally to Calcutta. He was a progressive thinker, and supported the education of women, which was not very prevalent in India at the time.

It was common for Brahmins in those times to be proficient in Sanskrit; however, influenced by Lokhitawadi's Shat Patre, Gopalrao regarded learning English well as more important than Sanskrit. Noticing Anandibai's interest, he helped her receive education and learn English.

At age of 14, Anandibai gave birth to a boy. But the child survived only ten days because the necessary medical care was unavailable. This situation proved a turning point in Anandibai's life, and inspired her to become a physician.

Towards a medical career[edit]

Gopalrao encouraged his wife to study medicine. In 1880, he sent a letter to Royal Wilder, a well-known American missionary, stating Anandibai's interest in studying medicine in the United States, and inquiring about a suitable post in the US for himself. Wilder offered to help if the couple would convert to Christianity. This proposition, however, was not acceptable to the Joshi couple.

Wilder published the correspondence in his publication, Princeton's Missionary Review. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Anandibai's desire to learn medicine and Gopalrao's support for his wife impressed her, and she wrote to them, offering Anandibai accommodation in America. An exchange of many letters between Anandibai and Theodicia ensued, in which they discussed, among other things, Hindu culture and religion.

While the Joshi couple was in Calcutta, Anandibai's health was declining. She suffered from weakness, constant headaches, occasional fever, and, sometimes, breathlessness. Theodicia sent her medicines from America, without results. In 1883, Gopalrao was transferred to Serampore, and at that time, he decided to send Anandibai by herself to America for her medical studies despite her poor health. She was apprehensive, but Gopalrao convinced her to set an example for other women by pursuing higher education.

A physician couple named Thorborn suggested to Anandibai to apply to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. On learning of Anandibai's plans to pursue higher education in a Western country, the then orthodox Hindu society very strongly censured her. Many Christians supported her decision, but they wanted her to convert to Christianity.

Anandibai addressed the community at Serampore College Hall, explaining her decision to go to America and obtain a medical degree. She discussed the persecution she and her husband had endured. She stressed the need for Hindu female doctors in India, and talked about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India. She also pledged that she would not convert to Christianity. Her speech received publicity, and financial contributions started coming in from all over India. The then Viceroy of India contributed 200 rupees to a fund for her education.

In America[edit]

Anandibai Joshee graduated from Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMC) in 1886. Seen here with Kei Okami (center) and Tabat Islambooly (right). All three completed their medical studies and each of them was the first woman from their respective countries, obtaining a degree in Western medicine.

Anandibai travelled to New York from Calcutta by ship, chaperoned by two English female acquaintances of the Thorborns. In New York, Theodicia Carpenter received her in June 1883. Anandibai wrote to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, asking to be admitted to their medical program,[3] (which was the first women's medical program in the world). Rachel Bodley, the dean of the college, enrolled her.

Anandibai began her medical education at age 19. In America, her declining health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet. She contracted tuberculosis. Nevertheless, she graduated with an MD on 11 March 1886, the topic of her thesis having been "Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos". On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message.

Return to India[edit]

In late 1886, Anandibai returned to India, receiving a hero's welcome. The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.


Anandibai died early next year on 26 February 1887 before reaching age 22. Her death was mourned throughout India. Her ashes were sent to Theodicia Carpenter, who placed them in her family cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York.


Caroline Wells Healey Dall wrote Anandibai's biography in 1888.[4]

Doordarshan aired a Hindi serial named "Anandi Gopal" based on Anandibai's life. (Kamlakar Sarang directed the serial.)

Shrikrishna Janardan Joshi wrote a fictionalised account of Anandabai 's life in his Marathi novel Anandi Gopal. (The novel has been translated in an abridged form in English by Asha Damle.) It has also been adapted into a play of the same name by Ram G. Joglekar.


  1. Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS), a Non-governmental organisation from Lucknow has been awarding the Anandibai Joshi award for Medicine in reverence to her early contributions to the cause of Medical sciences in India.[5]
  2. Maharashtra government has a fellowship in her name for young women working on women’s health.


  1. ^ Eron, Carol (1979). "Women in Medicine and Health Care". In O'Neill, Lois Decker. The Women's Book of World Records and Achievements. Anchor Press. p. 204. ISBN 0-385-12733-2. First Hindu Woman Doctor 
  2. ^ "Historical Photos Depict Women Medical Pioneers". Public Radio International. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Scan of letter from Anandibai Joshi to Alfred Jones, 28 June 1883; DUCOM Archives
  4. ^ The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee: A Kinswoman of the Pundita Ramabai, published by Roberts Brothers, Boston
  5. ^ "IRDS Awards 2011". Retrieved 29 October 2013. Anandibai Joshi was one of the first Indian women to have obtained a degree in modern medicine when despite great hardships and poor health she got the MD from University of Pennsylvania in USA in the end of 19 th Century.


  • Documents at the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy referencing Anandi Gopal Joshi

External links[edit]