John Marcham was a Trustee, Board President, adviser, benefactor, and friend. In addition to his work as a journalist, editor, and publisher, John dedicated many years to supporting the DeWitt Historical Society, now The History Center. It was with gratitude and much affection that the Research Library at our former location on East State Street was named in his honor.
A Brief Biography
A graduate of Ithaca High School and Cornell University, John enlisted in the Army toward the end of World War II and was sent to the Philippines aboard a troopship where he helped produce the ship's newspaper, his first venture with the printed word. He returned to campus to complete his college degree, and served as editor-in-chief of the Cornell Daily Sun. He was a writer for two years at Life Magazine; then he and his wife Jane bought and published the Glastonbury Citizen, a Connecticut weekly newspaper, for one strenuous year. John later returned to his hometown and for five years was city editor of The Ithaca Journal. He then spent 28 years as editor and publisher of the Cornell Alumni News, a monthly magazine which repeatedly won top honors at national alumni workers' conventions. In addition to this robust career John was active in the community, as a scoutmaster, cubmaster or board member of scouting, as founding president of the Council for Equality, board member for Watermargin, Book & Bowl, and the Cornell Railroad Historical Society. He was elected a member of the Tompkins County Board of Representatives for nine years, and was an officer of the county's Economic Opportunity Council for 15 years. He co-chaired the Eugene McCarthy for President campaign in this district and was an elected delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He served on state and county Democratic committees, and he sorted political books for the Friends of the Library Book Sale.
As a trustee, Board President, advisor, donor, and guiding hand of the DeWitt Historical Society, now The History Center, John worked closely with trustees, directors, and staff over many years. He was a major participant in the planning and fund raising needed for our move to the Dean Building, now the Gateway Building. One of the many noteworthy projects he generously piloted was our book publishing program. A skilled editor and writer, John helped us with several major publications over the years, including The Towns of Tompkins County, Images of Ithaca and Tompkins County, Images of Rural Life, Sol Goldberg’s Ithaca, and Lehigh Valley Memories.