Willie Bowles, teacher and early historian of the woman suffrage movement, was born on February 4, 1912, to Gordon and Beatrice (Cosper) Worley in Piedmont, Alabama. She attended school in Auburn, Alabama, and Rock Hill, South Carolina. She matriculated at Sam Houston State Teachers' College (now Sam Houston State University), Huntsville, Texas, in 1926 and received her bachelor of arts degree in 1931. From 1931 to 1934 Mrs. Bowles taught English and Spanish at the high school in Alief, Texas. Between 1934 and 1939 she taught history at the Senior High School in Harlingen, Texas. In 1934 she enrolled in the graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her master's degree in 1939. Her thesis, History of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas, was one of the first to be written on the subject.