Acclaimed Historian of Alcatraz Island
"Ranger John Martini exemplifies the Park Service. He is a fountain of information about the history of Alcatraz back to its pre-Civil War role as a fort, and he brings an attractive moral seriousness to the task of historic preservation."
-- George Will, Washington Post Writers Group, 1988
John Martini is one of the world's renowned authorities on Alcatraz Island and has been researching "The Rock" for more than 35 years. The author of two popular books about the island, Fortress Alcatraz and Alcatraz At War, he has appeared in numerous documentaries about the island.
He began researching the island's history in 1974 as a park ranger on Alcatraz and since that time has interviewed scores of former island residents and traveled to archives around the country searching out new information on The Rock's history. His professional research has been included in more than a dozen Special History Studies about the island and its structures prepared for the National Park Service.
During his research John carried out formal interviews with numerous former former convicts, retired guards, family members, Native American activists, and lighthouse keepers as part of the park's Oral History program.
In 1987, as a result of his in-depth knowledge of Alcatraz and its residents, John served as historian to the production of the award winning "Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio Tour" by Antenna Theater of Sausalito, California, which has since become the model for audio tours around the world.
John has focused much of his research on the little-known period when Alcatraz served as a military fort and U.S. Army prison, and has explored first-hand the underground network of tunnels, cisterns, sewers, gun positions and subterranean barracks that dot the island. He has appeared as historian on documentaries about the island for The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, The Military Channel, PBS and local television programming.
He also combines his skills as researcher, historian and ranger to present a popular illustrated lecutre on "Unknown Alcatraz" that explores the islands seldom-seen and little understood underground areas.
John at work