|Founder||Albert Nelson Marquis|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Berkeley Heights, New Jersey|
|Key people||Fred Marks,|
CEO and Editor-in-Chief
|Publication types||Reference directories; press releases|
Marquis Who's Who is an 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.
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".
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. The content is also provided online to libraries and other paid subscribers.
Founded in 1898 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." 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.
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, bought Marquis in 2003.
Marquis publications include:
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".
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 claims 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". Once selected, a biographical draft is sent to biographees for pre-publication checking. In cases where notable individuals decline to submit biographical data, Marquis compiles information itself.
In 2007, referring to the International Biographical Centre, the American Biographical Institute, and Marquis Who's Who, Jan Margosian, consumer information coordinator for the Oregon Department of Justice, lumped all biographical reference volumes together in a "warning to consumers" to be wary, labeled all such companies "pretty tacky", and added 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".
In 1999, Forbes magazine had published "The Hall of Lame" by Tucker Carlson, in which Carlson reported that the selection process was neither rigorous nor meaningful; self-nominators and thousands of people who are not particularly notable were included; and that Marquis profited by selling subscriber addresses to direct mail marketers.
In CSO Online, Ben Rothke wrote about how many of the Who's Who directories do no checking and will accept submissions from anyone who will pay the fee. The article asks "Who would be so foolish as to pay for inclusion in a Who's Who directory that no one reads?"
Marquis Who's Who states that it requires no fees from the persons selected as biographees, on its website's 2019 FAQ page, which also states that listees may have online access, and may edit their own online listings, via its connected "Marquis Biographies Online" subscription service.
Forbes adopted Who's Who in America as a source for compiling information on post-graduate success when it began ranking America's most prestigious colleges in 2007. 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.
Longevity researchers have used inclusion in Who's Who in America for a study showing that people listed there live longer.