Ruth Smith Lloyd

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Ruth Smith Lloyd
Photo of Ruth Smith Lloyd
Born (1917-01-17)January 17, 1917
Washington, D.C.
Died February 5, 1995(1995-02-05) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C.
Alma mater
Known for First African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in anatomy.
Scientific career
Fields Anatomy

Ruth Smith Lloyd (January 17, 1917 – February 5, 1995) was a 20th-century scientist whose research focused on fertility, the relationship of sex hormones to growth, and the female sex cycle. She earned a Ph.D. in the field of anatomy from Western Reserve University in 1941, making her the first African-American woman to have reached this achievement.[1] Lloyd worked on the faculty of medicine at Howard University from 1942 to 1977. She married physician Sterling Morrison Lloyd in 1939, and had three children. She died of cancer in 1995.

Early life and education[edit]

Ruth Smith was born in Washington, DC on January 17, 1917.[2] Her parents were Mary Elizabeth (Morris) Smith, who was a clerk in the US Treasury Department, and Bradley Donald Smith, who was a pullman porter.[2] She had a sister named Hilda B. Smith and another named Otwiner Demond, who became a school principal.[3][4][5] She was the youngest child.[6] Lloyd attended the prestigious, historically black, Dunbar High School.[2][4]

Lloyd attended Mount Holyoke College, which was then a mostly white institution.[7] Her choice of college was reportedly influenced by the experience of her brother-in-law, William Montague Cobb, who was married to Hilda.[2] Lloyd graduated with a bachelor of arts cum laude in 1937, majoring in zoology.[2][8]

From 1937 to 1938, Lloyd studied for a master's degree in zoology at Howard University supported by a fellowship, under Ernest Everett Just.[2] She had planned on becoming a school teacher, but was encouraged to undertake further study.[6] Lloyd gained a fellowship from the Rosenwald Fund and undertook doctoral studies under Boris Rubenstein at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.[2] She studied the fertility of macaque monkeys,[9] becoming the first African-American woman to gain a PhD in anatomy with her dissertation, Adolescence of macaques (Macacus rhesus) in 1941.[10][2]


Lloyd taught at Hampton Institute in Virginia from 1941 to 1942, and then joined the medical faculty of Howard University in 1942.[2][6][4] Lloyd worked at Howard until her retirement in 1977.[6][4] She taught physiology and anatomy, reaching the rank of associate professor in 1955.[2] Her areas of research were endocrinology, sex-related hormones, and medical genetics.[6] Lloyd also chaired the university's Committee on Student Guidance and was director of the Academic Reinforcement Program.[2][4] From 1947, the Department of Anatomy in which she worked was chaired by William Montague Cobb.[11]

She was a member of Sigma Xi, and the American Association of Anatomists, serving [4]

Personal life[edit]

Ruth Smith married Sterling Morrison Lloyd in on December 30, 1939.[4][2] He was a physician who also graduated from Howard University, who died in 1980.[2][4] Lloyd had three children and eight grandchildren.[4][2] In retirement, she was active in the All-Souls Unitarian Church, helped found the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 1987, and was a member of the social and service organization, Girl Friends.[2][4]

Lloyd died of cancer at home in Washington on February 5, 1995.[4]


  1. ^ Oakes, Elizabeth H (2002-01-01). International encyclopedia of women scientists. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 0816043817. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Epps CH, Jr; Johnson, DG; Vaughan, AL (October 1993). "Black medical pioneers: African-American 'firsts' in academic and organized medicine. Part three". Journal of the National Medical Association. 85 (10): 777–96. PMC 2568213Freely accessible. PMID 8254696. 
  3. ^ "Principal M. Otwiner DeMond". The Washington Post. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Ruth Smith Lloyd, Howard U. Professor". The Washington Post. 9 February 1995. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  5. ^ Sampson, Calvin C (January 1991). "William Montague Cobb, MD, PhD 1904-1990". J Natl Med Assoc. 83 (1): 13–14. PMC 2627008Freely accessible. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Spangenburg, Ray; Moser, Kit (2003). African Americans in science, math, and invention. New York, NY: Facts On File. p. 163. ISBN 1438107749. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  7. ^ Warren, Wini (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington, Ind. [u.a.]: Indiana University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0253336031. 
  8. ^ Sammons, Vivian Ovelton (1990). Blacks in science and medicine. New York: Hemisphere Pub. Corp. p. 155. ISBN 0891166653. 
  9. ^ Smith Lloyd, Ruth; Rubenstein, Boris B. (December 1941). "Multipla ova in the follicles of juvenile monkeys". Endocrinology. 29 (6): 1008–1014. doi:10.1210/endo-29-6-1008. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  10. ^ Lloyd, R.S. Adolescence of macaques (Macacus rhesus). Cleveland OH: Western Case University. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  11. ^ Cobb, WM (November 1967). "The Howard Department of Anatomy". Journal of the National Medical Association. 59 (6): 421–8. PMC 2611414Freely accessible. PMID 4867381. 

External links[edit]

  • Photos of the Howard Department of Anatomy, including Ruth Smith Lloyd in a history of the department.[1]
  • Selected scientific publications: on fertility of macaques (1941),[2] ovarian changes induced by hormones,[3] vaginal smears (1952).[4]
  • ^ Cite error: The named reference Cobb 1967 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  • ^ Cite error: The named reference Lloyd & Rubenstein was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  • ^ Lloyd, Ruth S. (March 1951). "Ovarian changes in immature rabbits induced by equine gonadotrophin". The Anatomical Record. 109 (3): 431–445. doi:10.1002/ar.1091090303. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  • ^ Lloyd, RS (January 1952). "The vaginal smear technique a critical review of its present status in the practice of medicine". Journal of the National Medical Association. 44 (1): 15–21. PMC 2617095Freely accessible. PMID 14908569.