• Waco’s first licensed female physician? A three-time Baylor grad, Dr. Hallie Earle

    Three photographs of Hallie Earle

    In 2013, Baylor Regents approved “Hallie Earle Hall” as the name for the southern part of what would debut that fall as East Village. Since then, thousands of Bears have lived in the building — but to many, “Earle” is still a new name in Baylor history.

    So let’s answer the question: Who was Hallie Earle?

    A nearly lifelong Central Texan, Earle was born on a ranch just outside Waco in 1880. She enrolled at Baylor at age 17, served as senior class secretary, and took as many math and science classes as possible — earning the nickname “Dr. Earle” even as an undergraduate. She graduated from Baylor with her bachelor’s of science in 1901, and added a master’s of science from BU a year later. (A copy of her thesis is presumably still in the cornerstone of Carroll Science Building, having been placed there while the now-classic building was under construction.)

    Earle taught school in Gainesville, Texas (north of Fort Worth), for three years before entering Baylor College of Medicine in Dallas. For many years, she held the school’s record for highest GPA, and she became its first female graduate in 1907.

    After postgraduate work and internships in Chicago, New Orleans and New York, Dr. Earle worked for a few years at a sanitarium in Marlin (30 miles outside Waco). She returned to Waco in 1915 and established a private obstetrics and internal medicine practice, becoming Waco’s first licensed female physician. Her office was in the city’s famous ALICO building. She would serve in that role for more than three decades, until her retirement in 1948 (at which time she was still one of only a handful of female doctors in the area).

    Medicine was Earle’s career, but it wasn’t her only interest. She also loved studying weather, and was named a Cooperative Weather Observer by the U.S. government in 1916 due to her comprehensive weather observation journals. In 1960, the United States Weather Bureau honored her for her decades of service.

    Earle passed away in 1963, and is buried in Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery; her gravesite includes a Texas Historical Commission marker, placed in 1996.

    Today, her family’s papers (including Earle’s weather journals, and a daily diary she kept from 1895-1963) are part of Baylor’s Texas Collection. And of course, her legacy lives on in Earle Hall — fittingly, home to Baylor’s Science and Health Living Learning Center.

    Sic ’em, Dr. Earle!

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