Eddy, Mary Pierson (1864-1923)

Pioneer medical missionary in Syria. Eddy was born in Sidon of missionary parents and was the first woman doctor to receive the imperial permit of the Turkish empire to practice medicine. She went to the United States in 1880 and enrolled at Elmira College (New York). After she recovered from an illness, she felt a call to relieve the sufferings of Syrian women. She earned a medical degree from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and in 1892 she was appointed by the Presbyterian church to the Syria mission.

Eddy spent several years in medical itineration among the villages of southern Lebanon. She believed that medical work should be centered in fields where opposition to evangelical work was greatest. She began a dispensary for women in the area of Junieh, 15 miles north of Beirut, where the Maronite Christians had prevented any Protestants from living. By her service, Eddy soon made friends and opposition faded. In 1903 she established a hospital and a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, who were moved to the cool 4,000-foot level in the mountains near Hamana for the summer months. During World War I, when patients could not be taken back to the sea coast, they spent the winter in the mountains and were found to be in much better health than expected. Thenceforth the mountains became a year-round location for the sanatorium. Her health failing, eddy left Syria in 1914 and lived in Washington, D. C., where she died.

R. Park Johnson, “Eddy, Mary Pierson,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 194.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998. Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.



The Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, holds some of Eddy’s letters and reports.


Fleischmann, Elen. “I Only Wish I Had a Home on this Globe,” Journal of Women’s History 21 (2009): 108-130.

Henry Harris Jessup. Fifty-three Years in Syria. Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1910.