Matilda Evans was born in Aiken, South Carolina 1872 where she attended the Schofield Industrial School founded by Quaker, Martha Schofield whose mission was to help educate emancipated Americans. Encouraged by Martha Schofield, Evans enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio, attended on scholarship for almost four years, and left before graduating, in 1891, to pursue a medical career.
She graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (WMCP) in1897 and was the first African American woman licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina. She practiced obstetrics, gynecology, and surgery, and cared for patients in her own home until she established the Taylor Lane Hospital of Columbia in 1901, granting medical care to many underserved communities.
Rare for the time, she believed that health care should be a citizenship right and governmental responsibility, much like education. She strongly advocated public health care and petitioned the State Board of Health of South Carolina to give her free vaccines for black children. In 1916 Evans created the Negro Health Association of South Carolina and in 1918 she volunteered in the Medical Service Corps of the United States Army during World War I.
An author and editor, she founded and ran The Negro Health Journal of South Carolina. Dr. Evans never married; she adopted and raised seven children and served as a foster parent for more than two dozen others. She died in 1935 at the age of 63 after a short illness, leaving a remarkable legacy of service to her patients, students, and community despite the daunting obstacles of a segregated society and limited resources.
Personal note from Linda: When I lived in South Carolina, my daughter attended Schofield Middle School that still exists today.