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Dr. Robert Brady

Illustration of Dr. Robert Brady


Robert Brady was born in Clay Bank, Gloucester County, Virginia, in 1845. His father, Prophet Brady, and his mother were slaves.
Brady first shows up in Pittsburgh records in the 1863-1864 edition of Thurston’s city directory, one year after his arrival. He worked as a porter for dentist George W. Spencer, whose office was at 254 Penn Avenue.
For two years, Brady educated himself by studying at night in the dental laboratory at Spencer’s practice. By 1864, he was proficient enough to secure an apprenticeship with Dr. Spencer. He advanced to foreman at the practice and continued working for Spencer for two decades.
Around 1879, Brady registered as a dentist with Allegheny County. From that point forward, he was Dr. Brady, making him one of the pioneer African American medical professionals in the city. He left Spencer’s employ and set up his own dental practice in the Hill District, on Wylie Avenue, in 1884. For the next forty-plus years, Dr. Brady would serve the residents of the Hill District as a dentist, a neighbor and a community leader.

Dr. Brady's ad from the Pittsburgh Courrier from December of 1912

Brady was married twice. His first wife, Ruth Ann Thompson, a Pennsylvania native, whom he had wedded in 1867, died in 1888, leaving him a widower with a daughter. In 1891, Dr. Brady married Mary Virginia Arnett Jones, a widow.  A lifelong Pittsburgher, she was a hairdresser who had apprenticed with John C. Peck.
Mary V. Brady served as recording secretary and president for the management board of the Industrial Home for Colored Girls, as well as president of the Aged and Infirm Colored Women’s Home on Lemington Avenue.
Dr. Brady’s stepdaughter, Luella Howard, was a lifelong Hill District resident and distinguished club woman. She was an officer of the Frances E.W. Harper League (named in honor of abolitionist and suffragist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper), of which her mother, Mary Brady, had been a charter member. Mrs. Howard was also a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Women’s Progressive League. In the 1920s, she was secretary of the Aged and Infirm Colored Women’s Home.
Dr. Brady was a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church and served on the board of directors for Avery College and the Aged and Infirm Colored Women’s Home. His home and office were at 2258 Wylie Avenue, at Soho Street.
Dr. Brady opened a savings account with Dollar Bank in July 1880.

Account signature of Robert Brady