Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans made history in South Carolina as the first black woman licensed to practice medicine in the state. Evans was born in 1872 to Anderson and Harriet Evans of Aiken, South Carolina. She attended Schofield Industrial School and later enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio. Evans left before graduating in 1891 to pursue a medical career. She enrolled at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1893 and received her M.D. in 1897.
Evans returned to Columbia, South Carolina, where she set up her practice. As the first African-American woman licensed to practice in South Carolina, she treated both white and black patients and was in great demand. She practiced obstetrics, gynecology, and surgery, and cared for patients in her own home until she established the Taylor Lane Hospital, the first black hospital in the city of Columbia, in 1901. She later founded another institution, St. Luke’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses, which she directed until 1918.
Evans also founded a weekly newspaper, The Negro Health Journal of South Carolina, and offered a program of recreational activities to underprivileged boys. She also found the time to raise 11 children, 5 of relatives and 6 who had been left at her practice. Although her obligations as a physician and caregiver occupied much of her time, Evans also farmed and made time to do the things that she enjoyed.