Dr. Georgia Rooks Dwelle (1884-1977)
Dr. Dwelle, the daughter of a slave, was the first Spelman College graduate to attend medical school and relied on special tutoring and extra classes in order to ultimately graduate with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. After graduation, she took the Georgia State Medical Board exam in 1904, and was the highest scorer on the test that year. Upon moving back to Atlanta and seeing the terrible conditions of the city's poorest black residents, she opened the Dwelle Infirmary, which was the first general hospital for African-Americans, the first "lying-in" obstetrical hospital for African-American women, and eventually the first all-black clinic for venereal disease in Atlanta. Dr. Dwelle was an active member of the Atlanta community, and she served as Vice President of the National Medical Association, a professional organization for black physicians. She said that she "had an inborn instinct for Social Work" and "found an outlet...in the practice of medicine."