Harriet "Hallie" Earle Historic Marker and Gravesite
Harriet (Hallie) Earle earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Baylor University, and a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. In 1907, Dr. Earle became the first licensed female physician in McLennan County and had her own practice in Waco, Texas from 1915 to 1948. After her retirement, she became a farmer and a weather observer for the United States Department of Commerce. She died in 1963 and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, where a historical marker was placed in 1996 by the Texas Historical Commission for her contributions to Waco.
Backstory and Context
Harriet “Hallie” Earle was born on September 27, 1880 in a log house in McLennan County, Texas. Hallie was the youngest of eight children. Her father, Major Isham Harrison Earle, was a Civil War veteran. Hallie came from a long line of physicians, including both of her grandfathers and several uncles.1
Earle received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Baylor University in Waco, where she excelled in mathematics. After graduation, Earle taught school in Gainesville, Texas, and entered into medical school at the Baylor University Medical School in Dallas. She established a record of the highest grade point average earned by any student, male or female, to that date. She received her M.D. in 1907 and was the only female in her graduating class.2
Earle opened her Waco office in 1915 and built her private practice around the treatment of women. She was the first licensed female physician in Waco. Earle also assisted with medical examinations of female coeds enrolled at Baylor University. She had a significant number of paying patients at her practice, but she was also seen as a humanitarian for her persistence in refusing to turn anyone away if they needed medical attention, and treated a significant amount of her patients free of charge.3
After retiring from medicine in 1948, she followed in her father’s footsteps and became a medical observer for the United States Department of Commerce. She was appointed as the only Central Texas weather observer in 1916. In 1960, the United States Weather Bureau recognized her with the John Campanius Holm Award, granted annually to honor cooperative observers for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations.4
On November 1, 1963, Harriet “Hallie” Earle died and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. In 1996, the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker near her grave acknowledging her achievements in the medical field.
2McArthur, Judith. Smith, Harold. Texas Through Women's Eyes: The 20th Century Experience. Austin, Texas. University of Texas Press.
3Silverthorne, Elizabeth. Women Pioneers in Texas Medicine. College Station, Texas. Texas A&M Press, 1997.
4Sharpless, Rebecca. Hallie Earle. Handbook of Texas Online. November 23, 2011. Accessed December 01, 2016. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrewb.