Celebrate Archives Month: Chicago Woman Established Hospital and Girl’s School in Iran

03 Oct 2014 4:01 PM | Gretchen Neidhardt

Submitted by Baha'i National Center:

A little over 100 years ago, at the age of 52, Chicagoan Susan Isobel Moody was so moved by her new-found Baha’i Faith that she finished medical school, learned to speak Persian, and moved to Iran to establish a hospital and school for girls.

Susan Moody was born in 1851 in Amsterdam, New York. As a young woman, in addition to the responsibilities of caring for her five orphaned younger siblings, she studied voice and fine arts in Chicago, New York and Paris. The young Miss Moody considered becoming a doctor, but abandoned medical studies because she couldn’t stand the dissecting room.

The Baha’i Faith began in Persia in the 1860s. The first mention of it in America was in Chicago in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition’s World Parliament of Religions.  In 1903, after much study and prayer, Susan Moody joined a growing cluster of Chicago believers and embraced the Faith and its teachings of the oneness of humanity.

In 1909 she visited Palestine to meet ‘Abdul-Baha’, the son of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Faith, who taught that the height of virtue is to serve others.  She learned of the poverty and need of the Persians, and vowed to do what she could to alleviate their suffering. She re-enrolled in medical school and learned the language before moving to Tehran.

Dr. Moody became a beloved figure in Tehran, where she worked for 25 years to help women overcome poverty and ignorance. Her patients, lacking knowledge of basic health and hygiene, often came to her with chronic, untreated conditions because they would not remove their veils for male physicians. Moody stayed faithful to her work there despite anti-Baha’i and early anti-American sentiments.

On her return visits to the United States, Dr. Moody also played a leadership role as part of a group of women who helped select the site and raise money to build the Baha’i Temple in suburban Wilmette, Illinois.  She died in Tehran in 1934. 

Photos courtesy of the National Baha’i Archives, United States

READ MORE: http://www.bahai.us/2013/03/23/susan-i-moody-pioneer-physician-and-educator-in-early-20th-century-iran/


Dr. Moody with Baha’i women in Tehran, 1910. These women were some of the first to appear in public without a veil.


Dr. Moody and Baha’is in Tehran, 1920.


Funeral for Dr. Susan Moody, Tehran, 1934. Hundreds attended, including many of her students.

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