Cedar County, Iowa

Source: “Progressive Men of Iowa”. Page 229

      Emlin McClain, chancellor of the law department of the State University of Iowa, a distinguished legal authority, author of many standard works, and best known in Iowa as the annotator of the code, both old and new, is now a resident of Iowa City, where he has been connected with the law department of the State university since 1881. He was born in Salem, Ohio, November 25, 1851.
      Both his parents were born in Pennsylvania, of Quaker antecedents. His father, William McClain, was of Scotch-Irish descent and was principal and proprietor of Salem institute in Ohio. He removed to Tipton, Cedar county, Iowa, in 1855, where he had charge of the public schools of the town. For a time he operated a farm in that county and afterward owned and conducted the Iowa City Commercial college, and in connection with it founded the Iowa City academy. A few months before his death, in 1877, he opened a commercial college in Des Moines.
      Emlin McClain lived on the farm until he was about 13 years old and his early education was obtained almost entirely at home, concluding with one year at an academy in Wilton. In 1866, at the early age of 15, he entered the State university and graduated in the philosophical course in 1871, taking the classical degree in 1872 and graduating from the law department in 1873. During his college course he was a member of the Zetagathian literary society and one of its presidents. He was also a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and was one of the commencement speakers of his collegiate and law classes.
      Upon the completion of his law course he [p.299] went at once as a clerk in the law office of Gatch, Wright & Runnells, in Des Moines. He was private secretary of United States Senator Geo. G. Wright, and clerk of the senate committee on claims during the two sessions of the Forty-fourth Congress, 1875-77. For the next four years, until 1881, he practiced law in Des Moines and during that time prepared McClain's Annotated Statutes of Iowa, which was published in 1880 and immediately became the standard code, regarded as an absolute necessity by every lawyer in Iowa. In 1881 he was appointed a professor in the law department of the State university, and removed to Iowa City; he was made vice chancellor in 1887 and chancellor in 1890.

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