Philo Norton McGiffin, journalist and professor, was born in Fairhaven, New York, on May 6, 1900, the son of Rev. Nathaniel and Margaret (Leet) McGiffin. He received the B.A. degree from Hamilton College in 1923 and the LL.B. from the University of Southern California in 1926. He became the chief editorial writer of the Buffalo (New York) Evening News in 1938 and served in the same capacity for the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times from 1939 to 1940. He came to Texas in September 1940 as professor of English and later taught history at Arlington State College (now the University of Texas at Arlington), where he served until his death.
During World War II McGiffin was radio news analyst and commentator for the Texas Quality Network. He initiated the practice of comparing foreign military operations and geography with distances between Texas towns, thus in a sense bringing Guadalcanal and Normandy home to Cuero, Waxahachie, and other Texas localities. For two years after the war he was political analyst and editorial writer for the Fort Worth Press. McGiffin wrote several historical novels for youth, including The Domino Horse (1958) and Sam Henderson, Texas Ranger (1959). He was a member of the Texas State Historical Association, Sigma Delta Chi, and Delta Theta Phi. The McGiffin Memorial Award to outstanding undergraduate history students at UT Arlington is named in his honor. He and his wife, Lewis Lee Shaffer McGiffen, had one son. McGiffin died on April 12, 1964.