John Martin was director of the Rakow Library of the Corning Glass Museum,
and founding director of the Corning Community College Library. His book
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.