Ima Christina Barlow, teacher, daughter of Walter Anthony and Ida (Jackson) Barlow, was born in Williamson County, Texas, on February 11, 1899. She graduated from Taylor High School and entered the University of Texas. She began teaching in a one-room rural school and alternated teaching and university studies until she graduated. Among other places, she taught in Beaumont, Vernon, San Marcos, and Brownwood while she completed an M.A. in history. While in Brownwood she applied for a position teaching European history at West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University). As she later stated, President Joseph A. Hill said to "come on up and they'd see how I worked out." She remained at the institution for thirty-four years. Barlow completed the Ph.D. degree in 1939 under the directorship of Professor Thad W. Riker and published her dissertation, a study of the Agadir crisis, the following year.
Although her teaching specialization and research interests centered on modern Europe, Barlow was a well-informed Texas historian, having studied under professors Eugene C. Barker and Walter Prescott Webb. She coauthored a junior high school Texas history text, occasionally taught the senior-level course in Texas history, and supervised many master's theses relating to Texas topics. She was an active member of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, contributed to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, and edited the journal for four years (1949–52). For many years she sponsored a campus honor society designed to encourage and recognize academic achievement of freshman and sophomore students. She was a Methodist and a member of the Texas State Teachers Association. She retired in 1964 and moved to Austin, where she continued research and pursued other interests. She died in Austin on October 13, 1990, and is buried in Austin Memorial Park Cemetery.