Portrait of Sarah Loguen Fraser, M.D. painted by Susan Keeter, 2000. On display in the Health Sciences Library of Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.
Sarah was born to a former slave turned conductor of the Underground Railroad in 1855. Sarah decided to become a physician after seeing a young boy pinned beneath a wagon, vowing “I will never, never see a human being in need of aid again and not be able to help.” Her 1873 enrollment in medical school was celebrated by a local Syracuse newspaper which wrote “This is women’s rights in the right direction, and we cordially wish the estimable young lady every success in the pursuit of the profession of her choice.”
Sarah completed her medical school training in 1876 which made her the fourth black female physician in the US, the second in New York, and the first to graduate from a coeducational medical school. She went on to intern in pediatrics and obstetrics in Philadelphia and Boston before opening her own practice in Washington, DC. While in Washington, Sarah met pharmacist Charles Fraser. They married and moved to the Dominican Republic where Sarah became the country’s first female physician. By law, Sarah was only allowed to treat women and children in the Dominican Republic because of her gender.
Widowed in 1894, Sarah lived in Paris and Washington before returning to Syracuse where she mentored black midwives. Sarah later moved back to the DC area before passing away in 1933. After her death, flags in Santo Domingo flew at half mast in her honor for nine days. A small park in Syracuse honors the Loguen family while the Child Care Center at Upstate Medical University is named in Sarah’s honor.
More about Sarah Loguen Fraser:
Celebrating Sarah Loguen Fraser (Hobart & William Smith Colleges)
Dr. Sarah Loguen’s Dominican Republic (Upstate Medical College)