Emma Ann Reynolds was born in Frankfort, Ohio in 1862. Reynolds was one of the first African American women to receive an M.S. in nursing. She graduated from Wilberforce University in 1886. She graduated from Provident Hospital's Nursing School in 1892. In 1895, she earned her M.D. from the Women's Medical College of Chicago at Northwestern University. She was the first black woman to graduate from Northwestern's program.
One of her major accomplishments was being among the first graduating class from Provident Hospital's nursing program. She was denied entrance into many nursing programs due to her race, so she and her brother, Rev. Louis H. Reynolds approached Dr. Daniel Hale Williams about founding Provident Hospital. The hospital was founded with an interracial staff, patients, and nursing program.