Malin was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1903, the son of a banker. He entered the family business at age ten, and was expected to eventually become president of the bank. However, Woodrow Wilson's World War I speeches gave him a desire to travel and get a government job. He attended the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, graduating as valedictorian in 1924.
From 1924 to 1929, Malin served as private secretary to International YMCA director Sherwood Eddy. While on his first trip abroad, he met Caroline Biddle. The two would wait four years, allowing Biddle to graduate from college, before they married. In 1930, Malin joined the economics faculty at Swarthmore College, where he would remain for twenty years until taking the job with the ACLU. During World War II, however, he worked for the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, headquartered in London. In September 1940, he was dispatched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue visas to the Jewish refugees of the S.S. Quanza when it stopped in Norfolk, Virginia to refuel.
ACLU executive director
Malin had been an ACLU member since the Twenties, but had not thought of working for the organization until shortly before he was selected to succeed Baldwin. He served twelve years in that position. Malin oversaw a tremendous increase in the ACLU's membership, and established its present-day chapter structure, but faced criticism from those who said that the organization had not aggressively confronted Joseph McCarthy.
- "Patrick Murphy Malin, 61, dies, headed civil liberties union", The New York Times, December 14, 1964, retrieved 2009-04-22 (fee for article)
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1994). No Ordinary Time. Simon & Schuster. p. 174. ISBN 9780684804484.
- Stephen Huba (28 April 2000). "Rescue of Jews Recalled Little-Known Nazi Era Story". The Cincinnati Post. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2012 – via HighBeam Research.
- The Malin Years (1950-1963), About.com, retrieved 2009-04-22