Mary Cleveland Harper, pioneer Texas pediatrician, was born in Missouri in 1868. She was educated in St. Louis, where she taught science for two years before taking secretarial training. After employment as secretary to Dr. John D. Vincil, she moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 1893 to work as a court reporter and secretary to George W. Brackenridge. With his support she entered the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1906 and received her M.D. in 1910. During her years at UTMB she was president of her junior class and treasurer in her senior year.
After a year's study in New York Harper opened a practice specializing in the diseases of children. She also served as a lecturer in her specialty at Santa Rosa and Pacific and Southern hospitals. She was a member of the Bexar County Medical Society and the Southern Medical and American Medical associations. She was active in social causes associated with children and served on the San Antonio School Board, headed the Bexar County milk commission, and was instrumental in the development of two certified dairies. She was also an advocate of breast-feeding as a means of preventing disease and death in infants and urged other physicians to educate mothers concerning the health related benefits of nursing. Harper, who never married, died in San Antonio on January 6, 1952.