Born in Kossuth, Ohio, Elder graduated from high school in Dayton, then attended Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio (1914-15), Art Academy of Cincinnati (1916-17), New School of Design, Boston (1917-18), Art Students League of New York (1920), and Arlington (Texas) State College (1951). Her teachers included George Brandt Bridgman, Frank Vincent DuMond, and Herman Henry Wessel. After teaching in high schools in Dayton and Cincinnati (1918-20), she moved to Dallas in 1921, residing there most of her career. She died in Dallas and was buried in the city.
Exhibitions: Annual Allied Arts Exhibition, Dallas (1928-29, 1930 honorable mention, 1931 award, 1932, 1933 award, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1945 award, 1946, 1948, 1950); Annual Exhibition of Texas Artists, Dallas Woman's Forum (1929); Annual Texas Artists Circuit Exhibition (1932-34); Annual Exhibition of the State Fair of Texas, Dallas (1932 prize, 1933-34, 1939); Southern States Art League Annual Exhibition (1934, 1936 prize, 1938); Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth (1934-37); Dallas Painters in Oils, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1935); Joseph Sartor Galleries, Dallas (1935 one-woman); Santa Fe, New Mexico (1935 one-woman); Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas (1936); Greater Texas and Pan-American Exhibition, Dallas (1937); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1937-45); Golden Jubilee Exposition, State Fair of Texas, Dallas (1938); Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (1940 and 1943 one-woman); Frank Reaugh Art Club, Dallas (1941, 1953-55); Texas-Oklahoma General Exhibition (1941); Texas General Exhibition (1945); Federation of Dallas Artists (1947-51, 1954-55); Texas Fine Arts Association Exhibition (1951); Texas A&M College, College Station (1951); Klepper Sketch Club, Dallas (1953-55); Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio (1953-55); Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts, Dallas (1956-61); Women Artists of Texas 1850-1950, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon (1993); Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans.