Dr. Susan Maria Smith McKinney Steward (b. 1847—d. 1918)
Born in Brooklyn in 1847, Steward was the first African American woman medical doctor licensed in New York State. She earned her medical degree in 1870 from New York Medical College for Women, graduating from the school as valedictorian. After graduation, she practiced medicine in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, where she opened and ran a private practice from 1870-1895. Her specialty was in prenatal care and childhood diseases. She also helped to found the Brooklyn Women’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary which was a source of healthcare for African Americans in the surrounding community. Throughout her life as a medical doctor, she served on the board of the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People, practiced at New York Medical College and the Hospital for Women in Manhattan, and eventually moved with her second husband, U.S Army Chaplain Theophilus Gould Steward out West and practiced in both Montana and Wyoming. The last 20 years of her medical career spent as a resident physician and faculty member at Wilberforce University in Ohio teaching health and nutrition. Outside of her medical career, Steward was deeply involved in women’s suffrage activities. A public speaker, Steward spoke at the first Universal Race Congress at the University of London in 1911, where she presented on black women in American in addition to a speaking engagement at the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs where she spoke about women in medicine. She was also involved in several clubs; Steward was president of the Brooklyn Women’s Christian Temperance Union (No. 6) and helped to found the Equal Suffrage League with her sister Sarah J. Garnet and was active in the suffrage and temperance movements.
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