Born in 1834 in Ireland, Sophia Presley emigrated to the New York with her mother, father, brother, and sister in 1850. Shortly after settling in the U.S., Presley’s mother died and the rest of the family relocated to Steubenville, Ohio. Presley graduated from the Granville Female Seminary in Ohio in 1860. She then entered the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1876 and graduated in 1879. There, Presley completed an internship at the Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia and was appointed instructor of surgery in 1880.
In 1881, Presley moved to Camden, New Jersey and opened a private practice. Throughout her career in Camden, Presley worked to better her community. She served as a clinician of the West Jersey Orphanage for Destitute Colored Children and was a medical attendant at the Methodist Episcopal Home in Collingswood, New Jersey. Presley was also a member of the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Camden Women’s Club, of which she was elected director in 1899. A monumental achievement in Presley’s career was her acceptance into the traditionally all-male Camden County Medical Society. After seven years of petitioning to become a member, Presley became the first woman to enter the society in 1890 and was elected its secretary in 1894 and 1895.
Presley lived in Camden for the rest of her life. On November 28, 1909, she passed away from heart disease at the age of 75. She never married or had children. Presley is buried in Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.