Mariana Durbin specialized in topics regarding domestic life in the 19th century when she first joined the Diary Project. Towards the late 1990s, Durbin’s research focused on possible illustrations for the Diary Project. Her research at sites like the Library of Congress and the Steinway archives in New York supplied copies of images to the project.
Topics regarding domestic life in the 19th century included such disparate subjects as sources of infection for typhoid in New York City; beer gardens in the New York area (disapproved by some as there was drinking on Sunday), and a casino located in pleasure gardens known as the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Durbin grew up in Summit, New Jersey and attended Smith College, Columbia University and graduated from Birkbeck College, London University with a BA with honors in art history, specializing in European fifteenth century art. She worked at Time Inc. and then as a picture researcher at Forbes Magazine and later American Heritage in New York City. She then moved to London where she worked for Newsweek Magazine as picture editor for the London Bureau. When she returned to the United States, Durbin settled in the Washington area where she researched text and pictures at Time-Life Books. She began her volunteer work with the Smithsonian in 1989 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. She prepared a bibliography of the Crafts and Folk Art of India for the Sackler Gallery, which is on their website, and also started researching with the Steinway Diary Project. Durbin is currently working for Graphic Arts at NMAH to put the Ferris Collection of prints, drawings and photographs on the web. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband, Ed, who volunteers at the National Air and Space Museum.