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Roanoke's Black Medical History

Presentation on Roanoke’s Black Medical History to Take Place at Gainsboro Branch Library on Feb. 22

A lecture and discussion on Roanoke’s Black medical history will take place at the Gainsboro Branch Library on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at 6 p.m. in honor of Black History Month.

The presentation is sponsored by Roanoke Public Libraries, Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, and the Roanoke Higher Education Center. The event is free, open to the public and will include talks by local historian Jordan Bell and local physician Dr. Conrad Claytor.

At a time when health care was segregated, many doctors, nurses, and dentists spent their lives treating patients of Roanoke’s African American community. Roanoke became home to Burrell Memorial Hospital in 1915, as well as the Burrell Training School for Nurses in 1921, which at the time was the only nursing school in Virginia that trained Black nurses.

Roanoke also became home to the Magic City Medical Society, the Claytor Memorial Clinic, and the Burrell Pharmacy. In 1941, the Hunton Life Saving Crew formed, becoming the first African American rescue squad in the country. Join us on Feb. 22 to learn more about the fascinating Black medical history of Roanoke.

The Roanoke Center, housed on the seventh floor of the Roanoke Higher Education Center, is part of Virginia Tech’s network of Commonwealth Campus Centers, which work to fulfill the university’s land-grant mission by hosting graduate-level degree programs, creating mutually beneficial community partnerships, providing professional development opportunities, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning.


Jordan Bell - Local historian, educator, and activist, Jordan Bell began the initiative Gainsboro Revisited in 2017 to preserve, learn, and teach the history of the Gainsboro community. Bell conducts regular walking tours of the Gainsboro neighborhood where he points out historic locations, talks about prominent community figures and discusses urban renewal’s destructive role in displacing African Americans in Roanoke.

Dr. Conrad Claytor – A retired podiatrist, Dr. Conrad Claytor is the grandson of Dr. John B. Claytor Sr., who opened Claytor Memorial Clinic in 1948.

For more information call

Gainsboro Branch Library
15 Patton Ave NW Roanoke, VA 24016