Harriet "Hallie" Earle was born on September 27, 1880, on a farm near Hewitt, Texas. She was the youngest of eight children born to Major Isham Harrison Earle, a veteran of the Tenth Texas Infantry, and Adaline Graves Earle. Hallie's family tree was populated by physicians on both sides, a foreshadowing of the path her life would take.
Due to her family's proximity to Waco, Hallie chose Baylor University as the vehicle to achieve her educational aspirations. President Oscar H. Cooper praised Hallie for her mathematical abilities, suggesting that she could become a good math teacher, but Hallie sought to challenge gender roles by pursuing a professional career in medicine. She graduated from Baylor in 1901 with a Bachelor's degree and needed only one more year to attain a Master's of Science. The quality of her work was such that a copy of her thesis was placed in the cornerstone of the Carroll Science Building in 1902.
After teaching at a school in Gainesville, Texas for three years, Earle returned to Baylor to complete her education. In 1907, she graduated from Baylor University Medical School in Dallas as the first female graduate to date. She conducted post-graduate work in Chicago, New Orleans, and New York.
For seven years, Dr. Earle practiced at Torbett's Hospital in Marlin, Texas. When she failed to find work through medical advertisements, she chose to take a chance and start her own practice in Waco, Texas, becoming the first licensed female physician in McLennan County history. Specializing in internal medicine and gynecology, Earle's clientele consisted primarily of women and the poor. In addition to her doctoral practice, Earle maintained the family farm and served as the sole Central Texas weather observer for over forty years.
Dr. Earle never married, choosing instead to live with her sister Mary and cousin Lucille Pearr'. By 1948, Mary and Lucille had both passed away. Hallie retired from her practice, still the only female physician in Waco. She died on Nov. 1, 1963, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. In 1996, the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker on her grave commemorating her accomplishments in the community.
Overall, she was a humanitarian. She fought for women's rights and exemplified the struggle for empowerment through her pursuit of a career in medicine. She challenged the gender roles of early 20th century America. Her ties to Baylor University and the local community are also important factors.
Sources "Alumni Celebrities: Halle Earle" The Baylor Lariat. December 4, 1919. Available at http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/lariat/ id/5597/rec/1, accessed November 29, 2012.
Sharpless, M. Rebecca. "Hallie Earle." Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fea12), accessed November 29, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Silverthorne, Elizabeth and Geneva Fulgham. Women Pioneers in Texas Medicine. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.