History of the College

Traversing back in history, more than 128 years back Isabella Thoburn College was the first Christian College for women in Asia. Ms.Isabella Thoburn – the young teacher, was the first woman Methodist missionary to sail to India in 1869, after the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS), of the Methodist Episcopal church was formed in Boston to champion the cause of women in India.

The history of the School and then College has been an arduous journey, though a fruitful one-from a school of one-room in the dusty Aminabad bazaar, the starting point of Ms.Thoburn, on April 18, 1870, with just six girls, to being named Christian Girls’ Boarding School (a year later), to the relocation for better facilities to Lal Bagh (meaning “Ruby Garden”), – the house of the treasurer of the last Nawab of Avadh, to an important development of a college-level class added to the Lal Bagh curriculum. This led to the formation of The Lucknow Woman’s College, which began functioning on July 12, 1886 with Fine Arts, affiliated to Calcutta University and later to Allahabad University.

Ms.Thoburn was aware of a greater need. She wrote to church friends in the U.S.A. The need of India today is leadership from among her own people, leadership not of impulsive enthusiasm or of prejudice, but of matured judgment and conscientious convictions. Part of our work as missionaries is to educate and train the character that can lead, and it is to accomplish this that we formed our first Women’s college in the eastern world.
After Ms.Thoburn’s death in an attack of cholera in August 1901, the College was named Isabella Thoburn College, in her memory, while the junior classes came under Lal Bagh High School.

The college created a landmark on becoming a separate institution during the Principalship of Ms.Florence Nichols in 1923. The site selected, the present one, was “a wilderness beyond the University”, an area known as Chand Bagh (Moon Garden) of over thirty acres of land.

We laud the efforts of our founder and all the principals for their strong stewardship. They worked with great fortitude; facing vicissitudes and financial constraints and successfully established the college.

It has since then forged ahead; meeting new challenges in the education system with new technology. Today the college has the strength of approximately 3,500 students. Our then principal Dr.E.S.Charles, has played a commendable role in leading us into newer terrains of development. So, while history beckons us, newer vistas excite and take us onward.

Success and growth in the form of newly conceived and implemented programmes, partnership-based projects, Service-Learning Programmes, Faculty Progression, Computer Literacy, Post Graduate Programmes, Career Counselling Cell and Foreign Language Programmes, hosting of International and National Conferences/Workshops, Publications and Infrastructural growth are some of the achievements we boast of; while maintaining the traditional activities and a sound moral and spiritual standard.

The need of the hour is to step outside the classroom. Education becomes meaningful when it resurges as social action and so the relevance of reaching out to the community through the Service-Learning programmes and the N.S.S. Units which run successfully in the College.

Our students actively participate in Service-Learning programmes; CEDBEC, AACCET, NICHE and CWSD, run on the campus which gives them an opportunity to work with the underprivileged, homes for the destitute, terminally ill and the differently abled and the various government departments and educational institutes. Some students have participated in International Service-Learning programmes. The students of the Isabella Thoburn College Economic Forum facilitate interaction with the economic industry by promoting career oriented and academic activities through workshops, paper presentations and group discussions. Students take a keen interest in the Career Counselling and Placement Cell where an array of information on careers is shared through information desks/talks etc by outside organizations/companies. The National Service Scheme NSS Units function efficiently and the students are engaged in Social Action Camps. The National Cadet Corps have done us proud by being selected in Republic Day Camps and Youth Exchange programmes and several students have been awarded Gold Medals.

Many of our students have qualified for the NET examinations and joined Ph.D. Progammes. Our B.L.I.Sc. and B.Ed. students have a hundred percent placement record and some with a flair for journalism; working on the Editorial Board of the college magazine have been selected by reputed News Papers as correspondents.

Skills related to theatrical arts comes to the forefront through College Day Plays, where students are trained to perform. The students of the College Choir are trained and have regular practices for college functions. Debates, group discussions, quiz, assemblies and cultural activities bring out the potentials of the students, while the Spiritual and Value classes help the students to value morals.

The Principal and the faculty have actively participated in Conferences/ Workshops/Refresher Courses/Orientation Programmes/Development Training Progammes and Enrichment Programmes; significant for Human Resource Development, a few examples being –Assembly 2010 of Methodist Women at St.Louis, USA, Network Conference of Presidents of Asian Women’s Colleges and Universities, Philippines, Leadership Conference for Asian Women in Higher Education, Philippines, World Methodist Conference, Seoul, Korea, Meeting of International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), 6th Pan-Asian Initiative on Service Learning and 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Service Learning and the Indian Science Congress. Some of our faculty members have been selected as the UBCHEA (United Board of Christian Higher Education in Asia) Fellows, have won gold medals, and are engaged in UGC major and minor projects and other major projects like under the Geological Survey of India and have been participating in Training progammes, besides writing scholarly research papers.

Our office staff and karamcharees continue to support our college work.


The Isabella Thoburn College Society provides education at the Intermediate, Undergraduate and Post Graduate level in Arts, Science and Education. This prospectus has been designed to introduce prospective students to the academic and socio-cultural learning environment at this pioneer women’s college. It is hoped that the varied educational environment at Isabella Thoburn College will sensitize students to emulate human values and concerns that contribute to a satisfying personal, professional, and social life. While engaged in academic development, the student is encouraged to make full use of her capabilities and experiences for service in the future.

If it were possible to talk directly with you, we would ask – What are your goals? What do you seek as you contemplate receiving a Bachelor’s or Master’s or Professional degree? We hope that your experiences at Isabella Thoburn College will challenge you to creatively and imaginatively define your life’s goal and interests.

We invite young women to our College who will happily co-operate in carrying on the rich traditions of Isabella Thoburn College. Here you will find help in the development of the body, mind and spirit and in the nurture of those graces which make a person truly educated. High scholastic achievement is desired and usually secured by our students but the development of a Christ-like character is the first and essential aim.

Ideals of the College











Our Motto : We Receive to Give

You come to College expecting to receive the best it has to offer. Consciously or not, you will bring to us your gifts as well. Indeed this College is only an accumulation of gifts from all the personalities who have touched it through the years. As an individual entering Isabella Thoburn College you can enrich the College with the gifts you bring. Perhaps they will be a fine mind, a beautiful voice, outstanding dramatic ability, creative talent in writing or prowess on the sports field. We welcome these. But there are greater gifts than mental and physical abilities Gifts of the Holy Spirit – as St. Paul called them – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control. A loving co-operative spirit of openness is what we wish for you as you receive your higher education at Isabella Thoburn College.

Since one of our primary aims is high scholarship (which is quite different from being able to pass examinations), we require wide collateral reading and many assignments outside the prescribed course.

We try to inspire a hunger for learning, not only for degrees, because our true zenith is not reached unless each student leaves College with her gifts of intellect and personality developed for service


Gold and White


1870 : Isabella Thoburn College started as a school.

1886 : The College class founded.

The Cross : In the centre of the shield is the Christian symbol of love, sacrifice and service.

The Chapel lamp : The symbol of light – Jesus Christ the Light of the World.

The Open Book: The Holy Bible. It also represents learning.

The Dove : The Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit. It also represents Peace.

The Lotus : Our National flower.