Anandi Gopal Joshi

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Anandi Gopal Joshi
Anandibai joshi.jpg
A portrait photo of Dr. Anandibai Joshi
Native name
आनंदीबाई गोपाळराव जोशी

(1865-03-31)31 March 1865
Died 26 February 1887(1887-02-26) (aged 21)
Pune, Bombay Presidency, British India
Resting place Poughkeepsie, New York, United States (ashes)
Other names Anandibai Joshi
Anandi Gopal Joshi
Alma mater Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
Spouse(s) Gopalrao Joshi
A photo of Anandi Gopal Joshi with her signature on it.

Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi (31 March 1865 – 26 February 1887) was one of the earliest Indian female physicians.[1][2][3][4] She was the first woman from the erstwhile Bombay presidency of India to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States.[5] There are many variations of her name, including Anandibai Joshi and Anandi Gopal Joshi where Gopal came from Gopalrao which is her husband's first name.

Early life

Originally named Yamuna, Joshi was born in the Pune (Maharashtra), but later raised and lived until getting married in Kalyan where her family had previously been landlords before experiencing financial losses. As was the practice at that time and due to pressure from her mother, she was married at the age of nine to Gopalrao Joshi, a widower almost twenty years older than her.[6] After marriage, Yamuna's husband renamed her 'Anandi'.[7] Gopalrao Joshi worked as a postal clerk in Kalyan. Later, he was transferred to Alibag, and then, finally, to Kolkata (Calcutta). He was a progressive thinker, and, unusually for that time, supported education for women.[8] Unlike other husbands of his time who beat their wives for not cooking, for example, Gopalrao beat his young wife for not studying because he was focused on the idea that his wife would go to medical school.[9]

At the age of fourteen, Anandibai gave birth to a boy, but the child lived only for ten days for lack of medical care. This proved to be a turning point in Anandi's life and inspired her to become a physician.[10]

Academic life

Her husband encouraged her to study medicine. In 1880 he sent a letter to Royal Wilder, a well-known American missionary, stating his wife's interest in studying medicine in the United States and inquiring about a suitable post in the US for himself.[11] Wilder published the correspondence in his Princeton's Missionary Review. Theodicia Carpenter, a resident of Roselle, New Jersey, happened to read it while waiting to see her dentist. Impressed by both Anandibai's desire to study medicine, and Gopalrao's support for his wife, she wrote to them offering Anandibai accommodation in America.[6]

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 he decided to send Anandibai by herself to America for her medical studies despite her poor health. Though apprehensive, Gopalrao convinced her to set an example for other women by pursuing higher education.

A physician couple named Thorborn suggested that Anandibai apply to the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. On learning of Anandibai's plans to pursue higher education in the West, orthodox Indian society censured her very strongly.

Anandibai addressed the community at Serampore College Hall, explaining her decision to go to America and obtain a medical degree.[12] She discussed the persecution she and her husband had endured. She stressed the need for female doctors in India, and talked about her goal of opening a medical college for women in India (Anandibai medical college). Her speech received publicity, and financial contributions started pouring in from all over India.

In the United States

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 to obtain a degree in Western medicine.

Anandibai travelled to New York from Kolkata (Calcutta) by ship, chaperoned by two female English acquaintances of the Thorborns. In New York, Theodicia Carpenter received her in June 1883. Anandibai wrote to the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, asking to be admitted to their medical program,[13] which was the second women's medical program in the world. Rachel Bodley, the dean of the college, enrolled her.

Anandibai began her medical training at age 19. In America, her health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet. She contracted tuberculosis.[10] Nevertheless, she graduated with an MD on 11 March 1885; the topic of her thesis was "Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindus". On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message.[10][14]

Return to India

In late 1886, Anandibai returned to India, receiving a grand welcome.[15] The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital.[citation needed]

Anandibai died of tuberculosis early the next year on 26 February 1887 before turning 22.[15] Her death was mourned throughout India. Her ashes were sent to Theodicia Carpenter, who placed them in her family cemetery at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York.[15]


A portrait photo of Dr. Anandibai Joshi, M.D., Class of 1886

In 1888, American feminist writer Caroline Wells Healey Dall wrote Joshi's biography.[16]

Doordarshan, an Indian public service broadcaster aired a Hindi series based on her life, called "Anandi Gopal" and directed by Kamlakar Sarang. Shrikrishna Janardan Joshi wrote a fictionalised account of her life in his Marathi novel Anandi Gopal, which was adapted into a play of the same name by Ram G. Joglekar.[17]

Dr. Anjali Kirtane has extensively researched the life of Dr. Anandibai Joshi and has written a Marathi book entitled "डॉ. आनंदीबाई जोशी काळ आणि कर्तृत्व" ("Dr. Anandibai Joshi, Kaal ani Kartutva: Dr. Anandibai Joshi, her times and accomplishments") which contains rare photographs of Dr. Anandibai Joshi.[18]

The Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS), a non-governmental organization from Lucknow, has been awarding the Anandibai Joshi Award for Medicine in honour of her early contributions to the cause of advancing medical science in India.[19][17] In addition, the Government of Maharashtra has established a fellowship in her name for young women working on women’s health.[20]

On March 31, 2018, Google honored her with a Google Doodle to mark her 153rd birth anniversary.[21][22]


  1. ^ McNeill, Leila (August 24, 2017). "This 19th Century "Lady Doctor" Helped Usher Indian Women Into Medicine". Smithsonian.
  2. ^ "First lady doctor of India". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Majumdar, Sisir K (18 October 2010). "KADAMBINI GANGULY (1861-1923): FIRST LADY MEDICAL GRADUATE IN INDIA*" (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science.
  5. ^ Venkatraman, Vijaysree (July 27, 2014). "This woman in 1883 had the best answer to the question of why a girl would want to be a doctor".
  6. ^ a b "Who is Anandi Gopal Joshi?". The Indian Express. 2018-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  7. ^ "Anandibai Joshi". Streeshakti The Parallel Force. Streeshakti. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  8. ^ Rao, Mallika (2014-04-08). "Meet The Three Female Medical Students Who Destroyed Gender Norms A Century Ago". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  9. ^ "The Graduates". The Triangle. Drexel University. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
  10. ^ a b c Falcone, Alissa (2017-03-27). "Remembering the Pioneering Women From One of Drexel's Legacy Medical Colleges". DrexelNow. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  11. ^ Naskar, Dipankar (2014). "Some Women of Inspiration: A Glance on Women Empowerment & Development in India". Global Journal of HUMAN-SOCIAL SCIENCE: D History, Archaeology & Anthropology. 14 (5): 51.
  12. ^ "Anandi Gopal Joshi: Google Doodle Celebrates India's First Female Doctor's 153rd Birthday". Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  13. ^ Scan of letter from Anandibai Joshi to Alfred Jones, 28 June 1883; DUCOM Archives
  14. ^ Desk, The Hindu Net (2018-03-31). "Google Doodle celebrates Anandi Gopal Joshi, India's first woman physician". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  15. ^ a b c "Why is a Crater on Venus Named After India's Dr Anandibai Joshi?". The Quint. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  16. ^ The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee: A Kinswoman of the Pundita Ramabai, published by Roberts Brothers, Boston
  17. ^ a b "Who is Anandi Gopal Joshi to whom Google dedicated a Doodle?". India Today. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "IRDS Awards 2011". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. 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 the USA in the end of 19th Century.
  20. ^ "How Anandi Joshi obtained a degree in Western medicine from Pennsylvania college". The Indian Express. 2018-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  21. ^ "Anandi Gopal Joshi's 153rd Birthday". Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  22. ^ "जानिए कौन हैं आनंदी गोपाल जोशी और गूगल ने क्यों उनके जन्मदिन पर बनाया डूडल" (in Hindi). Lokmat. March 31, 2018.


  • Mrs. Caroline Healey Dall (1888). The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee. Roberts Brothers, Boston.
  • Eron, Carol (1979). "Medicine and Health Care". In O'Neill, Lois Decker. The Women's Book of World Records and Achievements. Anchor Press. p. 204. ISBN 0385127332. First Hindu Woman Doctor
  • Kosambi, Meera, "Caste and Outcast (review)". Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History – Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2003, The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Anandibai Joshi: India’s first woman doctor (1865–1887)
  • Between the Lines, an 18-minute English documentary on the life of Anandi Joshi
  • Madhukar Vasudev Dhond, "Jalyatil Chandra" (Marathi) (Rajhans Prakashan, 11993)
  • Documents at the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and referencing Anandi Gopal Joshi

External links

  • Media related to Anandibai Gopalrao Joshee at Wikimedia Commons
  • Anandibai Joshee materials in the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
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