Susan McKinney Steward

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Susan McKinney Steward
Susan McKinney Stewart full.jpg
Born Susan Maria Smith
March 1847
Crow Hill, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died March 17, 1918(1918-03-17) (aged 71)
Wilberforce, Ohio, USA
Nationality American
Fields Pediatrics, homeopathy
Institutions Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary
Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People
Women's Hospital and Dispensary
Wilberforce University
Alma mater New York Medical College

Susan Maria McKinney Steward (March 1847 – March 17, 1918) was an American physician and author. She was the third African-American woman to earn a medical degree, and the first in New York state.[1]

She was born as Susan Maria Smith to Anne and Sylvanus Smith, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Her sister Sarah J. Garnet was the first African-American female school principal in the New York City public school system.[2][3][4]

She played the organ at Siloam Presbyterian Church and the Bridge Street African Methodist Episcopal Church.[5]

McKinney was motivated to enter medicine after the death of her brother in the Civil War and the 1866 cholera epidemic that affected Brooklyn. [6] Although McKinney's father was a wealthy pig farmer, she used money earned from teaching music in Washington, D.C. and New York City to fund her medical school education. In 1867, she attended the New York Medical College for Women and graduated as valedictorian in 1869.[7] [8]

Dr. Steward's medical career focused on prenatal care and childhood disease and where she worked with patients of all races. From 1870-1895, she ran her own practice in Brooklyn and cofounded the Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary. She sat on the board of and practiced medicine at the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People.[9]

In 1871 she was married to Reverend William G. McKinney from South Carolina. They had two children and he died in 1894. In 1896 she remarried to United States Army Buffalo Soldier and chaplain, Theophilus Gould Steward. She moved with him to Montana, Nebraska and Texas.[10]

By 1906 both found positions at the AME's Wilberforce University in Ohio, where she worked as college physician. They then had another child.

In 1911 she attended the Universal Race Congress in London, where she delivered a paper entitled Colored American Women.

She died at Wilberforce University. She was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.


  • Dr. Susan McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, Brooklyn
  • Susan Smith McKinney Steward Medical Society


  1. ^ Sylvain Cazalet (ed.) (2001). "Biography of Susan Smith McKinney Steward (1848-1919)". History of the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  2. ^ Michael, Pollak (12 September 2009). "FYI: Pioneering Principals". The New York Times. New York, New York: The New York Times. pp. MB10. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "Who Were the Women who made up the Suffrage Movement?". University of Louisville Women's Center website. Louisville, Kentucky: University of Louisville. 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  4. ^ MacDonald, Meg Meneghel (2007–2009). Garnet, Sarah J. Smith Tompkins (1831-1911). Washingtone Stat: Retrieved 12 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Gardner, P.; Glueck, G. (1991). Brooklyn: People and Places, Past and Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3118-4. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  6. ^ Emery, Crystal (2015). Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine. West Haven, CT: URU, The Right to Be, Inc. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-692-55050-2. 
  7. ^ Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929
  8. ^ "Susan McKinney Steward biography". Women in History. 2008. Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  9. ^ Emery, Crystal (2015). Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine. West Haven, CT: URU, The Right to Be, Inc. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-692-55050-2. 
  10. ^ Steward, T.G. (1920). Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry. Philadelphia: A.M.E. Book Concern. OCLC 24557286. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 

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