Eleanor Easley was born in Bellevue, Ohio in 1907. She received her AB degree from University of Idaho in 1928, an MA from Iowa in 1929, and attended courses at Peabody and Vanderbilt Universities. For medical school, she attended the brand-new Duke University Medical School (which opened in 1930). In 1934, she became the first woman to graduate from Duke's four-year medical school program and became the first female resident at the hospital. Dr. Easley was a member of the Duke University house staff and an associate in obstetrics and gynecology. Easley worked at Lincoln, Watts, Durham County General, and Duke Hospitals; and cofounded, with Dr. Richard Pearse, the state's first medical partnership, the Durham Women's Clinic, which is still a thriving practice today. The clinic was one of the first in the area to hire a nurse midwife.
Dr. Easley was also a pioneer in the use of anesthesiology for labor and delivery, as well as education about birth control, safe abortions, detection of breast cancer, preparation for childbirth, and sexual problems. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dr. Easley gave many presentations in the subject of women working and living in a male-dominated culture.