Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Thu, 03.18.1847

Susan M. Steward, Teacher, and Doctor born

Susan M. Steward

*The birth of Susan McKinney Steward in 1847 is celebrated on this date.  She was a Black physician.

Born Susan Maria Smith in Brooklyn, she trained and played the organ as a child.  Her early training qualified her for teaching positions, and she taught school in Washington, D.C., and New York City, using the proceeds of her New York teaching to pay tuition for medical school.  McKinney-Steward began medical study at the New York Medical College for Women in 1867. She specialized in homeopathic medicine and, after three years, graduated as class valedictorian.

After receiving her degree, she achieved wealth and a local reputation as a successful Brooklyn physician with a diverse clientele. McKinney-Steward excelled, especially in pediatric care and the treatment of childhood diseases. Outside her medical practice, she advocated for social reform, advocating female suffrage and temperance.  Until the early 1890s, she remained the organist for the local African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, where she regularly worshiped.  Both of McKinney-Steward’s husbands were ministers.

She married South Carolina minister William G. McKinney in 1871 until he died in 1894.  In 1896, McKinney-Steward married U.S. Army chaplain Theophilus Gould Steward. She moved with him to army bases in Montana, Nebraska, and Texas.  By 1906, husband and wife had both found positions at the AME’s Wilberforce University in Ohio, McKinney-Steward, as college physicians.  In 1911, McKinney-Steward joined luminaries, including W. E. B. Du Bois at a Universal Race Congress in London, where she delivered a paper on "Colored American Women." Susan M. Stewart, one of America's first Black women to earn a medical degree, the first in New York State, died on March 17, 1918, at Wilberforce University.

She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, and her grave is not far from the grave of composer James Weldon Johnson.

To become a Doctor


Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

why don't you go on & integrate a german-american school in st. ON BECOMIN SUCCESSFUL. by Ntozake Shange.
Read More