Marquis Who's Who

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Marquis Who's Who
Marquis logo.png
Parent company News Communications
Founded 1899
Founder Albert Nelson Marquis
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Imprints National Register Publishing, P.J. Kenedy & Sons
Official website

Marquis Who's Who /ˈmɑːrkws/, a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc., is the American publisher of a number of directories containing short biographies. The books are usually titled Who's Who in... followed by some subject, such as Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, Who's Who in American Politics, etc. Marquis Who's Who books are often found in the reference section of local libraries, at corporate libraries, and are also used for research by universities.[1][2] Subsidiary National Register Publishing publishes directories of business reference information.

Who's Who in America, its flagship publication, is a registered trademark of News Communications, Inc. The New York Times referred to the 60th edition of Who's Who in America as "a librarian's Vanity Fair."[3]

Marquis states in the Preface that Who's Who in America "endeavors to profile the leaders of American society; those men and women who are influencing their nation's development".[4]

Entries in Marquis Who's Who books list career and personal data for each biography, including birth date and place, names of parents and family members, education, writings and creative works, civic activities, awards, political affiliation, religion, and addresses.[5] The content is also provided online to libraries and other paid subscribers.

Marquis requires no publication or processing fees from the persons selected as biographees.[6]


Founded in 1899 by Albert Nelson Marquis as an American counterpoint to the UK-oriented publication of the same name (published by A.C. Black since 1849 and, notably, including substantial biographies since 1897), the first edition of the publication contained concise biographies of more than 8,500 "distinguished Americans". Albert Marquis wrote that the book's objective was to "chronicle the lives of individuals whose achievements and contributions to society make them subjects of widespread reference interest and inquiry."[4] Today, the company publishes over a dozen different series and offers an online database with information on 1.4 million individuals; Who's Who in America contains over 90,000 entries.[7]

Originally independent, it was acquired by the conglomerate ITT. Macmillan bought ITT's publishing division in 1985. Reed Publishing bought Marquis and National Register from Macmillan in 1991. News Communications, Inc., which owns The Hill,[8] bought Marquis in 2003.


General publications[edit]

  • Who's Who in America
  • Who's Who in the World
  • Who's Who of American Women
  • Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare
  • Who's Who in Science and Engineering
  • Who's Who in Finance and Business
  • Who's Who in American Law
  • Who's Who in American Politics
  • Who's Who in American Art
  • Who's Who in American Education
  • Who's Who in Corporate America

Historical series[edit]

  • Who Was Who in America
  • Who's Who in 20th Century America

Selection process[edit]

Marquis Who's Who states that selection of individuals for listing in its publications "is based on reference value. Individuals become eligible for listing by virtue of their positions and/or noteworthy achievements that have proved to be of significant value to society. An individual's desire to be listed is not sufficient reason for inclusion. Similarly, wealth or social position are not criteria. Purchase of the book is never a factor in the selection of biographees".[4][9]

Some insight into the selection process can be obtained from William L Hamilton's article entitled "Who Are You? Why Are You Here?" that appeared in the New York Times in 2005. He writes about new owners acquiring Marquis in 2003, "an editorial team of 70, including 12 researchers, make the call on who's notable and who's not."

Marquis calls its selection criteria "stringent" and says that biographical data on candidates for listing are reviewed by its editors to confirm that its requirements are met. Their chief executive, Gene M. McGovern, told the New York Times that the fundamental standards here are position and accomplishment.[3] Once selected, a biographical draft is sent to biographees for prepublication checking. In cases where notable individuals decline to submit biographical data, Marquis compiles information itself.[4]


In 2007, referring to the International Biographical Centre, the American Biographical Institute, as well as the far longer-lived Marquis Who's Who, Jan Margosian, consumer information coordinator for the Oregon Department of Justice, lumped all bibliographic reference volumes together in a 'warning to consumers' to be wary and called all such companies "pretty tacky", adding that "I don't know why they would put you in there if they weren't hoping to get you to buy the book. You truly have to look at how they are marketing and what the spin is. It's something you might want to watch out for."[10]

Tucker Carlson, in an article entitled "The Hall of Lame" that appeared in Forbes magazine in 1999, alleged that the selection process is neither rigorous nor meaningful and self-nominators and thousands of people not particularly notable are included. Carlson also claimed that Marquis makes money selling addresses to direct mail marketers.[11]

As a research tool[edit]

Forbes adopted Who’s Who in America as a source for compiling information on Post-graduate Success when it started Ranking America's Top Colleges in 2007.[12] However, Forbes dropped using Marquis Who’s Who from 2013 and is currently using various Forbes’ own lists such as Power Women, 30 Under 30, CEOs on the Global 2000, plus Nobel and Pulitzer winners, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellows, those elected to the National Academy of Sciences and winners of an Academy, Emmy, Tony or Grammy.[13]

It is observed that this change of the Forbes methodology has slightly affected the changes in the overall Ranking.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Marquis Biographies Online". 
  2. ^ Bates College Library Recommended Resources
  3. ^ a b Hamilton, William, L., "Who Are You? Why Are You Here?", The New York Times, November 13, 2005 Available online
  4. ^ a b c d Marquis Who's Who. Who's Who in America 1994. Chicago, Ill: Marquis Who's Who. pp. vi. ISBN 0-8379-0151-0. 
  5. ^ "Marquis Who's Who Bluesheet". Thomson Reuters. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  6. ^ FAQ, Marquis Who's Who
  7. ^ About us,
  8. ^ "Marquis Who's Who Launches Artists' Gallery Web Site (news release)". PR Newswire. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  9. ^ Compiling the Forbes/CCAP Rankings
  10. ^ "Paying for prestige:the cost of recognition". 
  11. ^ Tucker Carlson (March 8, 1999). "The Hall of Lame". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  12. ^ Center for College Affordability and Productivity staff (11 August 2010). "Methodology". Forbes. 
  13. ^ Caroline Howard, “Ranking America's Top Colleges 2013", Forbes, July 24, 2013
  14. ^ "News". 
  15. ^ "Forbes 2013 Rankings are up". College Confidential. 

External links[edit]