Marilyn Alice McAdams Sibley, Texas historian and academic leader, daughter of Horace and Nevada (Stuart) McAdams, was born in rural Walker County, Texas, on September 30, 1921. She grew up in East Texas and on June 24, 1944, married J. Dale Sibley at the First Baptist Church in Huntsville, near her family’s Walker County farmstead. The Sibleys had three sons—Stuart and Mark, who became dentists, and David, an attorney who served in the Texas State Senate from 1991 to 2002.
Sibley began her academic career by earning a bachelor’s degree in English at Sam Houston State University. Then in 1961 she completed her master’s degree in history at the University of Houston and in 1965 earned a Ph.D. in history at Rice University. Upon receiving her doctorate, Sibley joined the faculty at Houston Baptist University and quickly built a reputation as a distinguished publisher of Texas history. Beginning with Travelers in Texas, 1761–1860 (1967) and The Port of Houston: A History (1968), and continuing with Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (1983, 2000) as well as The Methodist Hospital of Houston: Serving the World (1990), she published eight books that, together with her articles in scholarly journals such as the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, made invaluable contributions to the historiography of the state.
Sibley’s success as a scholar brought recognition from many groups. The Texas State Historical Association honored her as a “Fellow” in 1974 and elected her as its president for 1981–82. The Sons of the Republic of Texas recognized her with the Summerfield G. Roberts Award in 1967 and again in 1983. She received the Minnie Stevens Piper Award for excellence in teaching in 1976. At Houston Baptist, she chaired the Department of History and also won numerous awards for outstanding teaching. Sibley was a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also belonged to the First Baptist Church in Huntsville.
Marilyn McAdams Sibley died in Conroe, Texas, on January 19, 2006. She was survived by her husband of sixty-one years, three sons, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was buried at the McAdams Cemetery in Walker County.