Ida Sophia Scutter was born in 1870 to Dr. John Scudder Jr. and his wife Sophia in Shelton, Nebraska. Many sources report she was born in India, but in a transcript of an interview with her she states that she was actually born here in the US. When she was six years old her family moved to Oklahoma, and she graduated from high school there.
She graduated at the top of her class in Oklahoma, and her father was suspicious of the quality of education being provided. The family moved east, and Ida was supposed to Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts. However, this was during the time of a terrible flu epidemic that was moving across the US, and she became ill and missed a good portion of the first year. She spent three years at this school, which was founded by none other than D.L. Moody. The primary emphasis of this school was to prepare young ladies for missionary work, and to provide education and employable skills to underprivileged women. To this day, tuition costs can be covered in part by performing by working for the school.
Next, Ida headed to Mount Holyoke. It was there, in her senior year, that she decided to become a medical doctor. After graduation, Ida headed to the Women's Medical College in Pennsylvania where she planned on specializing in pediatrics. She did her internship at Albany Medical College, but was in need of money. To earn some much needed cash, she went to work for the Children's Community in New Haven.
Answering a Need
Ida's grandfather was the first medical missionary ever to go out from the United States, and most of her aunts and uncles were active in missionary work. If Ida went into missions, she would actually be the fourth generation of missionaries from the Scudder family. She was even named after her aunt, Dr. Ida Scudder, who was a medical missionary in India. However, Ida did not want to be a missionary. But, while working in New Haven, she found out that there as a urgent need in Vellore, India regarding her mother's health... and that happened to be where her medical doctor aunt happened to be, also.
Ida headed off to Vellore to help for a while, temporarily putting her medical education on hold. She did not intend to, as she said, "become one of THOSE Scudders." She spent five years there before returning to the United States to finish her education.
TO BE CONTINUED ....
Historic American Landscapes Survey, Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies
Oral History of Dr. Ida Scudder
Boston University History of Missiology, Biographies: Ida Sophia Scudder and The Legacy of Ida S. Scudder
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.