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Mary Hancock McLean. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B018336).

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McLean, Mary Hancock (28 February 1861–17 May 1930), physician and missionary, was born in Washington, Missouri, the daughter of Elijah McLean, a physician, and Mary Stafford. She enjoyed a privileged childhood. Her father wanted her to succeed academically; he hired a private tutor and provided Mary with an ample allowance throughout her life. At age thirteen she enrolled at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri. In 1878 she transferred to Vassar College, from which she graduated two years later. McLean aspired to be a physician like her father and was accepted at the University of Michigan Medical School, an institution then more receptive than others to female students....

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Scudder, Ida Sophia (09 December 1870–24 May 1960), medical missionary and founder of the Vellore Medical College, was born in Ranipet, India, the daughter of John Scudder II, a medical missionary, and Sophia Weld. Scudder was born into the third generation of a missionary family that would eventually boast more than one thousand years of combined service abroad....

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Swain, Clara A. (18 July 1834–25 December 1910), physician and missionary, was born in Elmira, New York, the daughter of John Swain and Clarissa Seavey. When Clara was two, the family returned to their former home in Castile, New York. At the age of fifteen, Clara spent a year in Michigan, living with an aunt and teaching at a local school. She then returned to New York and graduated from the Canandaigua Seminary. For the next seven years she taught at public schools in the area....

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Underwood, Lillias Stirling Horton (21 June 1851–29 October 1921), medical missionary, was born in Albany, New York, the daughter of James Mandeville Horton, a partner in a wholesale firm, and Matilda McPherson. When she was sixteen, Underwood moved to Chicago with her family. Both of her parents’ families included Presbyterian clergymen, and her mother, who had wanted to be a missionary, especially influenced her career choice. In Chicago, Underwood became actively engaged in philanthropic work, visiting the sick in Chicago hospitals. This experience guided her to study medicine and to become a foreign missionary. In 1887 she received an M.D. from the Woman’s Medical College of Chicago, which became a part of Northwestern University in 1891. She then interned at the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children, and she contacted the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to volunteer for foreign mission work. She was commissioned to Korea, which had been recently opened by treaty to the Western world....