Evelyn Whitfield, née Walker, was born in Corvallis, Oregon, the youngest of six children. In 1935, she married Norman C. Whitfield and accompanied him to northern Luzon in the Philippines for his work as a logging engineer in the gold mines.
After the USA entered World War II in December 1941, she and her husband were imprisoned separately by the Japanese for three years. Released in 1945, the couple returned to the USA and settled in Oregon. In 1958, Evelyn obtained a master's degree in education at the University of Oregon and taught business subjects in Monroe and Philomath public schools. Shortly after the war, she wrote a memoir of her experiences, Three Year Picnic: An American Woman's Life Inside Japanese Prison Camps in the Philippines During WWII (1999), but did not publish it until more than 50 years later.
In 2001, she published a memoir of her childhood, The Farm: Treasure Remembered.