Alice Woodby McKane was the first black woman to work as a doctor in Savannah, Georgia. Born in 1865, she endured a major setback when both of her parents died before she reached seven years old: she lost her vision for three years. However, despite these obstacles, McKane went on to graduate from the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia in 1889, and the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania with a medical degree.
After graduation, she moved to Augusta, Georgia, where she taught at the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. She met her husband, Cornelius McKane and they moved to Savannah. The couple opened up the McKane Training School for Nurses, a school for black nurses and the first one of its kind in Georgia.
The couple also traveled to Monrovia, Liberia, where they opened the country’s first hospital, complete with a nurse training school similar to the one in Savannah. Upon Dr. McKane’s return to Savannah, she worked hard to establish the McKane Hospital, which opened in 1896. The hospital was later taken over by local black doctors in 1901 and renamed Charity Hospital.
Following her husband’s death in 1912, she continued practicing medicine and joined the NAACP. She also published two books: The Fraternal Sick Book (1913) and a book of poetry entitled Clover Leaves (1914). McKane died on March 6, 1948.