John F. Marszalek was born on July 5, 1939 in Buffalo, NewYork, the first of five children of John and Regina Sierakowski Marszalek. He married Jeanne Kozmer on October 16, 1965 and they have three sons: John F. III; Chris H.; and Jamie and eight grandchildren: 2 boys and six girls.
A graduate of Canisius College, 1961, he received his masters and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, 1963, 1968.
He participated in ROTC at Canisius and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Intelligence branch upon graduation. He was on active duty from 1965-1967, serving at Fort Benning, Fort Holabird, and in a psychological operations battalion in Viet Nam.
Since that time, he has been a historian, educator, writer, and administrator:
1967-1968 Canisius College, Buffalo NY, instructor of history
1968-1973, Gannon College, Erie Pa., assistant and associate professor
1973-2002, Mississippi State University, associate professor, professor, William L Giles Distinguished Professor of History; Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus 2002-present.. From 2008 to the present he has been the executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University. From 1998-2012, he was the Director and Mentor of Distinguished (Undergraduate) Scholars, He is co-editor (with Timothy B. Smith) of The World of Ulysses S. Grant book series at Southern Illinois University Press, 2014 to present.
Marszalek taught courses in the Civil War, Jacksonian America, and Race Relations and produced over twenty doctoral and masters graduates, a number of whom are published scholars.
He is the author or editor of fifteen books and over three hundred articles and book reviews. Sherman, A Soldier’s Passion for Order was a finalist for the 1993 Lincoln Prize and won non-fiction awards from the Mississippi Library Association and the Ohioiana Library Association. His first book Court Martial, A Black Man in America was made into a Showtime motion picture and reissued as a paperback under the new title Assault at West Point. President Bill Clinton presented the family of the wronged black West Point cadet a posthumous U.S. Army commission during a White House ceremony. Along with Charles D. Lowery, he edited The Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights, which the Library Journal named one of the best reference books of 1992. Three of his books (Sherman, A Soldier’s Passion for Order, The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson’s White House, and Commander of All Lincoln’s Armies, A Life of General Henry W. Halleck) have been History Book Club Selections. His latest books are The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant (2015) which won a writing award from the U.S. Army Foundation, Lincoln and the Military (2014) and A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow, South Carolina’s George Washington Murray (2006). He continues to lecture widely throughout the nation and has appeared on the major television networks. He serves on the board of advisors of the Lincoln Forum and the Lincoln Prize. Canisius College named him a distinguished alumnus; he received the Richard Wright Literary Award for life time achievement by a Mississippi author, and the Mississippi Historical Society presented him its highest award, the B.L.C. Wailes Award for national distinction in history. His graduate students published a book in his honor entitled Of Times and Race: Essays Inspired by John F. Marszalek, 2013.
He and his wife, Jeanne, have established Library Fund Endowments at Mississippi State University, Canisius College in Buffalo NY and St. Mary’s College in South Bend Indiana. Presently, along with David Nolen and Louie Gallo of the U.S. Grant Association, he is completing the first completely annotated edition of the Memoirs of U.S. Grant, which will be published by Harvard University Press in 2017.