Oscar Arvle Kinchen, author and historian, was born on January 14, 1889, in Adamsville, Tennessee, and educated in the country schools near his hometown. He moved with his family to Erick, Oklahoma, in 1905. After completing his high school education, he taught for a time in various rural school districts in Oklahoma, South Dakota, and California and then entered the University of Oklahoma, where he received his B.A. degree in 1916 and his M.A. in 1920. Afterward he pursued graduate studies at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, where he became interested in British, Canadian, and diplomatic history. In the 1930s he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa.
Kinchen taught at Butler College, Oklahoma City College, and Olivet College before becoming a faculty member at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock in the history and anthropology department. On December 24, 1942, he married Lila Mae Allred, an associate professor of clothing and textiles at Tech. Kinchen held membership in the Canadian Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association, the American Historical Association, and Phi Kappa Phi fraternity. He published several articles on Canada, the Southwest, and the Civil War era in various historical journals, including the Canadian Historical Review, Vermont History, and the Chronicles of Oklahoma. His first book, Lord Russell's Canadian Policy, was published by Texas Tech Press in 1945. Later books included The Rise and Fall of the Patriot Hunters (1956), Daredevils of the Confederate Army (1959), Confederate Operations in Canada and the North (1970), and Women Who Spied for the Blue and the Gray (1973). Much of his work was concerned with little-known aspects of Canadian-United States relations during the Civil War, including the raid on St. Albans, Vermont, by Confederate agents in November 1864, the northernmost action in the war. In addition, Kinchen was in wide demand as a lecturer at various clubs throughout the Southwest.
In 1964 he was Man of the Year at Texas Tech. On his retirement from teaching that year, he was named a professor emeritus of history. He was a Mason and a Unitarian. He died at Highland Hospital, Lubbock, on February 9, 1983, at the age of ninety-four and was buried in the Erick (Oklahoma) Cemetery. A memorial scholarship fund was set up in his honor through the Texas Tech Foundation.