Kathryn Mae Dunkin was born in Shamokin, Pa on May 10, 1912. Her parents were Charles Ellsworth Dunkin and Gwendolyn Mae Edwards. She attended Shamokin High School and upon graduation, matriculated to Dickinson College. She was an active member of the Chi Omega sorority, the Phi Beta Kappa Honors fraternity and participated in many other campus activities. After graduating from Dickinson College she married James I. McAdoo and lived in Shamokin, Pa with him as a housewife.