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History of Wilberforce University: Susan Steward

Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward, 1857-1918

Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward



Major Accomplishments

  • Co-founded the Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary
  • Women's Suffragette

Susan Smith McKinney Steward was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1857. She was the third African American woman to earn a medical doctorate and the first in the state of New York. She earned her M.D. in 1870, graduating as valedictorian.

Dr. McKinney Steward specialized in prenatal care and childhood disease. She gave papers on both topics. She ran her own practice in Brooklyn from 1870 to 1895. She cofounded the Brooklyn Women's Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary.

She married reverend William G. McKinney. They had two children. William McKinney died in 1892 and in 1896 she married Theophilus Gould Steward. The two relocated to Wilberforce in 1898. Dr. McKinney Steward was hired by Wilberforce University as a physician and a faculty member to teach nutrition and health.

She was a women's suffrage advocate and involved in the temperance movement. She lived in Wilberforce until her death in 1918. W. E. B. Du Bois delivered the eulogy at her funeral.

Contributed by: D. Long