Helen Doyle Black was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, on 2 May 1918. She graduated from Nashua High School in 1936 and attended Middlebury College, where she majored in French. After graduating in 1940, she taught French and English in Andover, New Hampshire.
Black enlisted in the U.S. Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) in 1942. In October 1942 she went to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, for training and then was stationed in Boston, where she worked in communications in the port director’s office. In summer of 1945 she went to Washington, D.C. for education services training and was then transferred to Pensacola, Florida. She was discharged in January 1946 as a lieutenant junior grade.
Black entered the management training program at Radcliffe College, but left it and worked with the Veterans Administration. She later completed the program, which had become the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration. Afterwards, she had several jobs in personnel management, working at R.H. Stearns and Filenes in Boston, and in 1957 moving to Greensboro, North Carolina, where she worked at Myers Department Store and Burlington Industries. In 1972 Black married an moved to New Hampshire, but relocated back to Greensboro in the early 1980s.