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The Gainsboro History Project

Magic City Medical Society

Society Background

The Magic City Medical Society was an organization of Roanoke’s leading Black physicians, pharmacists, and dentists. It was founded by Gainsboro residents Dr. Isaac D. Burrell and Dr. James H. Roberts in the early 1900s during a time when African Americans were barred from having membership in white-only organizations like the American Medical Association. The society met once a month, usually over dinner in the homes of members, to hear presentations from members about advancements or discourse in the medical field.

Presidents included:

A Women’s Auxiliary to the Magic City Medical Society was also established. Members included Mrs. Helene Downing, Mrs. Theresa Dudley, Mrs. Leticia Penn, and Margaret Roberts, among others.

See Also


Adkins, A. (2019, Feb. 20). Ceremony remembers, honors Black community-Ceremony honors people, neighborhoods key to Roanoke Valley’s Black history. The Roanoke Times.

Cox, R. (2016, Apr. 11). St. Luke mystery opens window on Burrell founding. The Roanoke Times.

Epps, G. (1950, Oct. 21). Mrs. W. R. Brown heads Roanoke medical auxiliary. New Journal and Guide, ProQuest.

Harris, B. (2012, Aug. 13). Looking back. The Roanoke Times.

Shareef, R. (1996). The Roanoke Valley’s African American Heritage: A Pictorial History. The Donning Company Publishers.