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Lucinda L. Coombs

First female medical missionary to China

Coombs graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and was sent to China by the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Possibly the first female medical missionary of any denomination in that country, she arrived in Peking (Beijing) in September 1873; two years later she opened the first hospital for women in China.

In November 1877, she married fellow Methodist missionary Andrew Stritmatter and moved to his station at Kiukiang (Jiujiang), Kiangsi (Jiangxi) Province. There she continued to work as a medical doctor, although her marriage automatically removed her from the roll of WFMS missionaries.

In 1880, her husband, suffering from tuberculosis, was forced to retire from the mission field. The Stritmatters and their two small sons arrived in San Francisco in October and began traveling east to his family home in Ohio. However, he could travel no further than Denver, where he died on November 22. Little is known about “Lucy’s” later life. She evidently moved on to Ohio with her children. She did not remarry, and died in Columbus, Ohio.

By Susan E. Warrick, Independent Scholar in United Methodist Missions History, Madison, New Jersey, USA

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved. It is taken, with permission, from the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity.


There is no complete biography of Lucinda Coombs. Some information about her can be gleaned from Wade Crawford Barclay, History of Methodist Missions; vol. 3 (1949).


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