Marian Calabro was born in Kearny, New Jersey in 1954. She grew up in Kearny and attended Queen of Peace grammar school in North Arlington and Kearny High School. During her upbringing, her interests revolved around reading, music, theater and writing. From 1972 to 1976, she went to Rutgers College in the first coed class. She majored in English and wrote for The Targum. She recalls dorm life as a freshman, the big brother program, access to women's reproductive health, student life on campus, articles she wrote for The Targum, and Rutgers College’s transition to becoming coed.

In part two, she recalls student activism on campus, memorable professors, including Barry Qualls and Betty Comtois, her junior year abroad at Warnborough College in Oxford, and her Henry Rutgers Thesis on the films of Jean Renoir. During the first part of her career, she worked in book publishing in Manhattan for firms such as Grosset & Dunlap, Dell Publishing, Learning Corporation of America, and Warren, Gorham & Lamont. She then spent the next period of her career in freelance writing, branching out into corporate communications. In the late 1980s, she wrote her first young adult nonfiction book, Operation Grizzly Bear, which was followed by Zap!: A Brief History of Television; Great Courtroom Lawyers: Fighting the Cases That Made History; and the award-winning The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party. In 2004, she founded and documented the histories of businesses including Annin Flagmakers, Aegis, American Water, Sandvik Materials Technology, BAYADA Home Health Care, the Clorox Company, Dominion Energy, the Emerson Foundation, and Farmers Insurance. She teaches writing at the Adult School of Montclair and is an affiliate of Amherst Writers and Artists. Her website can be found at

This interview is a part of the Pioneering Women of Rutgers College Project, an oral history project documenting the experiences of the first women to attend Rutgers College after it became coeducational in 1972. The project is a collaboration between the Rutgers Oral History Archives, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, and Institute for Women's Leadership.

The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2022-2023 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.

Photo: Marian Calabro with Barry Qualls, English professor, Rutgers College graduation, 1976