I started work at the ASCSA in the summer of 1981, having been hired by Marian to help the Publications Office make the transition from hot-lead printing to computer-based publishing. We had equipment supplied by David Packard that allowed data entry and back-up, which I did, but no ability, at least at first, to generate our own copy. That came a little later, when the School purchased a typesetter, so expensive that the AIA went in with us to buy it. In exchange we typeset the AJA for a few years.
Sarah and the School's new typesetter, 1982
As time went by, whatever could go wrong with computers and the other equipment naturally did, and there were often moments of frustration or sheer panic. But Marian was always the picture of patience and serenity (at least on the outside!). I know she worried about Publications in general, and keeping up the schedule, etc., but she never let that affect the office as a whole. She worked tirelessly, and took on as many tasks as necessary to get the journal/monographs out to the world. When I started, I remember being astonished that proofreading consisted of her and her assistant reading the material out loud to one another. Handling the photographic material meant laying it all out on her dining room table at home; special characters were inked in by her at the last moment. And she often had to deal with authors who insisted that work was finished when, in fact, “the last chapter isn’t quite done,” or “I’ll be sending the introduction along later,” and so on.
Marian at work in her office at the Institute for Advanced Study, 1982
We were located at the Institute for Advanced Study for nearly all of the 16 years I worked with Marian, starting in the basement of the library, and then moving to a house at the end of Olden Lane. Those first years were almost surreal, a throwback to a truly bygone age. I remember beginning my day, then when we got to lunchtime, Marian saying it was time to go to the cafeteria, where not just any meals were offered but ones prepared by a gourmet chef. We were also welcome to sit down and eat with the resident and visiting scholars of the Institute, people like Homer Thompson. Halfway through the afternoon, Marian would come to get me to “go to tea.” This was at the main building, again shared with those scholars who chose to attend that day. There were also lectures throughout the year, which we were invited to attend. Quite the atmosphere, and quite a break from work!
Marian and the staff of the Princeton Office on her retirement, 1997. From left to right: (bottom row) Tanna Roten, Marian McAllister, Carol Ford, Sarah George Figueira; (second row) Pat Tanner, Kerri Cox, Kathleen Krattenmaker, Mary Darlington; (third row) Mike Fitzgerald, Kathy Schulte, Richard Rosolino, Cathy Vanderpool, and Robin Bentley.
Marian lived in Philadelphia, yet she drove to Princeton every day, only cutting back to four or three days later on. That meant a trip up and back down the infamous Roosevelt Boulevard in her red station wagon, amassing I don’t know how many miles. She did have breakdowns, but kept at it nonetheless.
Marian and the staff of the Publications Office, 2019. From left to right: Jennifer Sacher, Carol Stein, Marian McAllister, Sarah George Figueira, Colin Whiting, Destini Price
During the time that I worked with Marian, I had a growing family, and she made it possible for me to handle both work and family responsibilities. If I suddenly had to leave in the middle of the day, she said “go,” knowing I could make up the work later. Absent that attitude, I may well not have stayed with the School. So I owe her a great deal. Marian and I made it through the publishing transition, starting in an age with no smartphones or internet, which is perhaps difficult for many to imagine today. No way except for mail or old-fashioned telephone to communicate with authors, readers, printers, or anyone else! But Marian soldiered on through everything that the world threw at her, with a true dedication to detail that is seldom matched. The School owes Marian McAllister a great deal too. May she rest in a well-deserved peace.