Noble, Charlie Mary (1877–1959)

By: Carol E. Williams

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: October 2, 2020

Charlie Mary Noble, teacher of mathematics and astronomy, was born to a pioneer family at Giddings, Texas, in 1877. She attended Warren Institute in Fort Worth, Sam Houston State College, the University of Texas (B.S.), and Texas Christian University (M.S.). She taught in the Fort Worth public schools for forty-six years, beginning in 1897; for twenty-five of these years she was head of the mathematics department of Paschal High School. She retired from the school system in 1943. Because of her knowledge of astronomy she was asked to teach mathematics, astronomy, and celestial navigation at Texas Christian University as part of the United States Navy's V-12 officer training course during World War II. After the war, she taught astronomy at the institution.

In 1947 Noble organized the Junior Astronomy Club at the Fort Worth Children's Museum (now the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History). This group met once a week and stressed individual observation and reports. Through this club, and her efforts to establish other astronomy clubs in Texas and elsewhere, young people were encouraged to study the universe. Charlie Noble developed a telescope rental library and, during the country's early experiments with satellites, organized a group for the purpose of visual tracking. In 1951 she aided Henry M. Neely, lecturer and teacher at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, by having her classes try a method that he thought would aid instructors in navigation. In 1956 Neely paid tribute to Noble in The Stars by Clock and Fist. Her friendship with Neely also brought about the publication of "The Texas Sky," a monthly folder sent to over 1,000 Texas school children. The procedures developed by Noble for junior astronomers were so successful that her methods were adopted nationally by the Junior Division of the Astronomical League.

Charlie Noble was a member of the Woman's Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, Delta Kappa Gamma, the Lecture Foundation, the Faculty Women's Club of Texas Christian University, the Texas Academy of Science, and the Tarrant County Historical Society. In 1950 she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Texas Christian University for her wartime teaching activities and her outstanding work in astronomy. In 1954 she was given the Altrusa Civic Award as "First Lady of Fort Worth" for her work in stimulating interest in astronomy among young people. In 1955 the Fort Worth Children's Museum dedicated and named their planetarium in her honor. She was the regional director of the Southwestern Division, Astronomical League of America, and in 1956 was the first woman to win that league's annual award for outstanding achievements in astronomy. Miss Noble died on November 30, 1959, in Fort Worth and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. She was an Episcopalian. A Charlie Mary Noble Memorial Astronomy Fund was established to further her work.

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The Armadillo (Fort Worth Children's Museum), June 1957, January 1960. Astronomy Club Scrapbooks, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Fort Worth Press, December 20, 1949, December 1, 1959. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 12, 1954, December 1, 1959, December 2, 1959.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Math
  • Women
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Carol E. Williams, “Noble, Charlie Mary,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995
October 2, 2020

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