Jacob David Tamarkin (1888-1945), professor of mathematics, was born in Chernigov in the Ukraine on July 11, 1888. He was educated at the Gymnasium of Emperor Alexander I in St. Petersburg, graduating in 1906. He received the diploma of the first degree (the equivalent of a Ph.D.) from the University of St. Petersburg in 1910, and became an instructor at the University. In 1917 he received the higher degree of Master of Applied Mathematics, and was appointed professor. He also taught at the School of Railroads and the Electro-Technical School. In 1920 he was given a leave of absence while he organized the Mathematical Institute of the University of Perm while serving as dean of the physico-mathematical faculty. In Leningrad he occupied a large apartment with two grand pianos. Shostakovitch came to play at Tamarkin’s, and the son of Rimsky-Korsakov was the second violinist in the amateur string quartet which gathered there to play through the night, taking an intermission for a banquet at midnight.
Tamarkin wanted to leave Russia. The opportunity arrived when he met a Dartmouth professor of mathematics in the summer of 1924 and they talked of a possible opening for him there. The next year the offer was confirmed when Tamarkin received a picture post card which stated merely that the weather was fine in Hanover. One day he left home and family, took a train and later forded a river to arrive at Riga and present himself, somewhat disheveled, to the American Consul. His family followed. His mother-in-law and young son escaped to Finland. His wife was imprisoned and only after a cable from Senator William Borah was able to join them in Finland and come to the United States. He taught at Dartmouth from 1925 to 1927, when he left to became assistant professor of mathematics at Brown. He was promoted to professor the next year. In 1940 he became co-editor of Mathematical Reviews, published at Brown. While on leave of absence for his health, he died in Bethesda, Maryland, on November 18, 1945.