Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) was a pioneering Scottish medical doctor, surgeon, suffragist, and founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. She was known for her significant contributions to medicine, women’s rights, and humanitarian efforts during World War I. Inglis was born in India and received a private education in Edinburgh before studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. She obtained the Triple Qualification and became a respected gynecologist and lecturer.
Inglis established The Hospice, a maternity hospital and training center, to address the under-resourced healthcare for women and children. She was known for her surgical skills and compassionate care, often waiving fees and providing support for her patients. In addition to her medical career, Inglis was actively involved in the suffrage movement. She served as the secretary of the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and worked closely with Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
During World War I, Inglis founded the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee, which sent all-female staffed relief hospitals to support the Allied war effort. Despite facing resistance from the government, she raised funds and organized medical teams to provide healthcare in Belgium, France, Serbia, and Russia. Inglis’s dedication to her work and her teams’ efforts were recognized by the Russian soldiers and the communities they served.
Tragically, Inglis passed away shortly after her return to Britain, suffering from bowel cancer. Her funeral was attended by both British and Serbian royalty, and she was buried at the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. Elsie Inglis’s legacy lives on through her contributions to medicine, women’s rights, and her pioneering efforts in establishing women-led medical units during wartime. She is remembered as a courageous and compassionate figure who made a lasting impact on society.