Ernest C Marriner ’13

Ernest Cummings Marriner (1892-1983) was a prominent historical figure in Waterville and the Kennebec Valley. His expertise as a historian is renown. Marriner was affiliated with Colby for over 40 years. Graduating from Colby in 1913, he acted as librarian and professor of bibliography for six years and then taught English for 31 years. He was Dean of Men from 1929 to 1946 and Dean of Faculty from 1946 to 1957. He retired from the faculty in 1960.

Ernest Marriner 1978

Marriner’s radio program, “Little Talks on Common Things,” showcased his extensive knowledge of Maine history, famous citizens, events and culture.

As college historian, Marriner completed a comprehensive history of Colby in the early 1960s. The History of Colby College was published by the Colby College Press in 1963.

Marriner was highly involved in the educational field beyond Colby as well, serving 25 years on the Board of Education of the State of Maine, 8 years as President of the New England College Admissions Board, and 15 years as Chairman of the Board at Thomas College in Waterville.

“Little Talks on Common Things,” Marriner’s weekly radio program, was extremely popular. The program was sponsored by Keyes Fibre, a local manufacturer, and ran from 1948 until 1982. “Little Talks” scripts and audio files are available online.

In a similar vein, Marriner’s Kennebec Yesterdays, published by the Colby College Press in 1954, offered details on the small-to-large aspects of central Maine culture and history. It was reviewed in the February 1955 issue of the Colby Library Quarterly.

Marriner died in Waterville in 1983, age 91.


Marriner was involved with the Colby Library Associates from the group’s inception in 1935. He contributed articles to the Colby Library Quarterly on the Cuala Press, Sarah Orne Jewett, Thomas Hardy and other subjects.

His 1949 monograph on the books written by James Brendan Connolly, published by the Colby College Press for the author’s 80th birthday, is a prime example of Marriner’s ability to strengthen relationships between Colby and its donors. He played a central role in building the trust of donor James Augustine Healy.

Additional work consulted:

Ernest Marriner donor file. Colby College Special Collections.