Susan Smith McKinney was born in 1847 in Brooklyn, New York to Sylvanus and Anne Springsteel Smith. In July 1870, some twenty-three years later she graduated as valedictorian of her class from the Medical College for Women in New York. Her father was a renowned pork merchant whereas her mother hailed from a Shinnecook squaw and Revolutionary War French colonel by marriage.
In her younger years as a child, Dr. McKinney studied the organ diligently under the direction of John Zundel of the Plymouth Church, and Henry Eyre Brown of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Both of which were known as two of New York’s famous organists. Her training experience through this venue had proved to be invaluable as it related to opening up doors of opportunity which lead to her teaching in the public school system and then moving forward to become the choir director and an accomplished organist at Bridge Street Baptist A.M.E. Church in Brooklyn for the next twenty-eight years.
Dr. Susan Smith became the first woman of color physician in Brooklyn and New York State. She was third in the United States. Never forgetting from whence she came, for the next twenty-four years Dr. Smith actively practiced medicine with her office being located in the Brooklyn neighborhood between Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Junior High School which was named in her honor and the Bridge Street A.M.E. Church.
Her professional organization affiliates and contributions were numerous and included being a member of the medical staff of the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women in Manhattan, organizer and founder of the Woman’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary in Brooklyn and a member of the King’s County Medical Society to name a few. Additionally, from 1892-1895 she was revered as the official physician to the Brooklyn Home for the Aged Colored People and an active board member as well.
- Firsts woman of color physician in New York State