The Crooked Lake Review

Featured Author

Home Index Museums Blog Authors Site Map About


John Martin

John Martin was director of the Rakow Library of the Corning Glass Museum, and founding director of the Corning Community College Library. His book Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-visited appears in the Fall 2005 issue of the Crooked Lake Review. Previous issues of the Crooked Lake Review contain John's articles on resuscitating a waterlogged library and racial tensions in Corning.

John had this to say when asked recently about his new book, Saints, Sinners and Reformers:

What led to my desire to understand the various social movements which swept across the upper regions of this state? First of all, of my 83 years, all but 14 of those years have been in residence in New York State. I was introduced to the variety of religious and secular experiences in New York State (as well as elsewhere) while studying for a B.D. in American religion. My master's degree and completed doctoral course work in American literature at Columbia included everything from the Hudson River School and the western settlements in NYS as seen through various American writers. My doctoral thesis was on Theodore Parker, the Unitarian reformer and abolitionist, and his associations with New York State reformers. Then, an interest in local history was enriched by the experience of helping, through research into early western NYS history, in the restoration of the Patterson Inn with my wife Phyllis, Director of the Benjamin Patterson Inn Museum. So all of this, I guess, led to the desire to look at the Saints, Sinners, and Reformers with which this State has been blessed!

Statement of Award to John and Phyllis Martin
on the occasion of their appointment
to the Steuben County Hall of Fame in 1994

Phyllis and John Martin met when graduate students at the University of Chicago, were married in 1953, and came to Corning and Steuben County in 1958, when John joined the original faculty at Corning Community College as a professor of humanities and the director of the library. In 1972 he became deputy director for administration of the Corning Museum of Glass, and had much to do with the successful salvaging of most of the books and artifacts of the flood-ravaged Museum.

In 1973 Phyllis Martin took over as head of the Storefront Museum of the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society, and in 1976 she became the director of the Benjamin Patterson Inn project of the Society which involved first restoring the historic building, then furnishing it as in Ben Patterson's time, when it was a stopping place for travellers and a community meeting center. In following years, the DeMonstoy Cabin, the Browntown School House, the Robert Star barn, and a carriage shed and blacksmith shop were added to the Museum complex. The Martins devoted much of their energies to this project until Phyllis retired as director in 1991.

Now, they are writing books together. In November 1993 their book on local history, The Lands of the Painted Post, appeared, following its publication in the spring as an English-language textbook for college students in Japan. The Martins have a long association with Japan beginning in 1964. Last year their book, Nara: A Cultural Guide to Japan's Ancient Capital was published, and this spring their latest book, Kyoto: A Cultural Guide to Japan's Imperial Capital will be available. Together with their children, they made their first trip to Japan in 1967. They have visited the folk museums of Japan and many of the decorative-art and craft museums in Europe and this country. The Martins are a team. They have three children, Jennifer, Scott and Todd.

An article about Phyllis Martin's work as Director of the Benjamin Patterson Inn
appeared in the March 1991 issue of the Crooked Lake Review
CLR Blog | Site Map | Contact CLR