Roberta Hall was born in 1939 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where her father owned a flour milling business. At North Side High School, Hall immersed herself in journalism and graduated as a salutatorian. She attended Duke University in North Carolina for a year, but after feeling like she didn’t fit in, she moved back to Indiana. Once enrolled at Indiana University, she studied journalism for two years while working in the nursing library.
Roberta and her new husband, Don Hall, then moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming where they raised two daughters. As Hall finished up her bachelor’s degree, she became interested in her anthropology classes. After moving back to Indiana, and living in Illinois for a short time, the Hall family finally settled in Oregon. Basing themselves in Salem, where Don worked at a local newspaper, Roberta went to the University of Oregon, earning her master’s degree and eventually her Ph.D in anthropology. During their time in Salem, Roberta also worked for the Marion County Health Department and participated in a research project studying a community of Russian Old Believers.
After completing her Ph.D., Hall found work in Victoria, British Colombia as a biological anthropologist at the Royal British Colombian Museum. She and her family remained there for four years until her husband, who couldn’t find a full-time job as an American immigrant, found work in Corvallis, Oregon. Roberta eventually moved to Corvallis as well, joining the Anthropology faculty at Oregon State University.
One of the most well-known projects that Roberta participated in during her years at OSU involved the repatriation of Coquille tribal remains and the recording of Coquille tribal history. Hall retired from OSU in 2003 at which point she began hosting a healthcare forum radio show in Portland.