The Monuments Men

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Sydney F. Markham ( 1897-1975 )

Sydney Frank Markham was born on October 19, 1897. After serving in Constantinople, Mesopotamia, and India during World War I, he returned to school in England at the end of 1921. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and diplomas in economics and political science from Wadham College, Oxford.

Markham served as a member of British Parliament in the House of Commons starting with his first election in 1929. He would go on to hold successive terms for the duration of his life in 1929-1931, 1935-1945 and 1951-1964. During these 25 years of service, he was at times Parliamentary Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Lord President of the Council, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Science Committee. He led Parliamentary delegations to Kenya, Malta, and the Far East.

In 1929, he was appointed Secretary of the British Museums Association and later elected its President. As Secretary, he undertook the task of visiting approximately 300 museums within the British Empire including South Africa, Rhodesia, Nairobi, Sudan, and Egypt in the first year alone. Also around this time, Markham was a Fellow of both the Meteorological and the Geographical Societies.

In January 1944, Markham was invited by the MFAA to serve on its reserve panel of museum advisors to Lt. Col. Leonard Woolley, Archaeological Adviser to the Director of Civil Affairs. He was then called to action with the MFAA in the Second British Army in early 1945. In addition to investigating German looting of museums in France, Holland, and Belgium, Markham served as Assistant to Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb in France.

After the war, Markham returned to Parliament. He was knighted in 1953. That same year, he started the Museum Association (MA) Benevolent Fund to offer financial assistance to MA members and their families. He died in 1975 at his home in Leighton Buzzard, England.