Born in Norcatur, Kansas, Dr. Elva McLin has taught at every educational level, from the all-grade country school in Kansas, through American schools in France and Germany, Brooke Hill School for Girls in Birmingham, and Athens State University’s upper-division and graduate courses.
She has written histories and historical pageants, beginning at a young age with her own county history, then plays and pageants for the areas in which she taught, and finally several histories and historical skits for the city of Athens, the county of Limestone, and Athens State College. She has served on various state and national boards of an academic nature and has written critical papers for several conferences.
She graduated from Emporia State University in Kansas in 1940 with a double major in history and English and two degrees, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Education. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Alabama and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Emporia State in 1991 named her a distinguished alumna and honored her at the homecoming events.
For eleven years she served as historian and public information officer for the Ordnance Division of the United States Army, serving at Benicia Arsenal in California, the United States Army Europe headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Missile Command in Huntsville, Alabama. During these assignments, she wrote press releases and around twenty bound histories, most of them classified, of Ordnance weapons and programs.
Prior to her retirement in 1987 as head of the English Department at Athens State College, she became the first Alumni Association “Teacher of the Year”, was honored with a campus ”Elva Bell McLin Day (April 24),” and had two English scholarships named for her—a national graduate fellowship given by Sigma Tau Delta, college English honor society, and an Athens State University scholarship by its Athens chapter. The Alabama Legislature named her an emeritus professor, and in her retirement, she served as a volunteer archivist for many years. Dr. McLin passed away on February 21, 2015, in Leander, Texas where she had lived for several years near her children.
Dr. McLin wrote several books, whose profits are all donated to the University Archives – Athens State College History 1821-1994, Mollie!, and Madame Childs: The Lady and the Legend.