Celebrate the Memory of Brooklyn’s Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Steward

Photo via "Fifty Years in the Gospel Ministry From 1864 to 1914" by Rev. T.G. Steward


Honor the achievement of one remarkable woman 100 years after her death with a special ceremony this weekend. An advocate for women’s suffrage, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney broke barriers and paved the way for other women of color during her lifetime.

Born in Brooklyn in the 1840s into what Brownstoner’s Suzanne Spellen called “a family of high achievers,” Susan had a goal of becoming a doctor. She gained admission to the New York Medical College for Women in 1867 and graduated as valedictorian in 1870, becoming the first black female doctor in New York State and the third in the United States.

brooklyn history susan smith mckinney steward

Dr. McKinney Steward in 1870, the year of her graduation. Photo via Schomburg Center, New York Public Library

Through her medical practice, lecturing and community work she became a well-known figure in Brooklyn. Among her many contributions to the welfare of Brooklyn, she co-founded the Brooklyn Women’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary and was a physician at the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People in Weeksville.

You can learn more about her fascinating life on Saturday, November 10 when family members, local history advocates and community representatives will gather at Nostrand Avenue and Prospect Place (Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward Place) for a commemoration and co-naming ceremony. The program starts at 11 a.m. and you can find more details and the invitation to the event at the website of Community Board 8 here.

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