A.B. Ohio State, 1921; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1925.
Asst. instr. Gk. Johns Hopkins, 1924-5; fell., ASCSA, 1925-6; fell. AAR, 1926-7; assoc. prof. Gk. Hamilton Coll., 1927-9; Sterling res. fell. Yale, 1929-31; instr. to prof. Gk. & Lat. Barnard, 1931-61; exec. off. class, dept., 1943; Medal of Merit (Italy), 1948; curator Columbia papyrus coll., 1954-61.
“Chapters in the History of Piraeus” (Johns Hopkins, 1925).
“Phalerum and the Phaleric Wall,” TAPA 59 (1928) 164-78; “Cape Colias and Phalerum and the Phaleric Wall,” AJA 36 (1932) 1-11; “Agriculture in the Life of Pompeii,” YCS 3 (1932) 165-208; An Economic History of Athens under Roman Domination (New York, 1942); “A Reply,” CW 37 (1943-4) 56-8; Pausanias and the Pentelic Quarries,” CP 41 (1946) 162-3; “The Value of Dio Chrysostom's Discourse for the Economic Historian,” in Studies in Roman Economic and Social History in Honor of Allan Chester Johnson, ed. P. R. Coleman-Norton (Princeton, 1951), 209-35; Columbia Papyri V: Tax Documents from Theadelphia. Papyri of the Second Century A.D., ed. with C. W. Keyes (New York, 1956); “Financial Transactions of Aurelia Titoueis,” with S. B. Porges, AJP 81 (1960) 157-75.
John Day was an economic historian in the tradition of Tenney Frank (who supervised his Johns Hopkins dissertation), Michael Rostovtzeff (with whom he studied on a Sterling Fellowship at Yale), and William L. Westermann (his colleague and predecessor as curator of papyri at Columbia). Though his teaching career was largely devoted to teaching Greek and Latin to Barnard undergraduates, his scholarship was marked by a broad interest in the primary written and archaeological sources for the study of Greek and Roman economic history. His study “Agriculture in the Life of Pompeii” was awarded a medal by the Italian government in 1948, and his book on the economic history of Athens was long regarded as the definitive work of its kind. However, John Day may be best remembered for his masterly edition of a very difficult but important Columbia papyrus, Tax Rolls from Theadelphia, the completion of a work begun by Clinton W. Keyes. A very kind and gentle man, John Day worked quietly by himself, hidden away in the papyrus collection of the Columbia University library where he pored over unpublished documents from Greco-Roman Egypt, applying his understanding of the ancient economy to the decipherment of new texts.
DAS 1951:216; NYTimes (29 Dec. 1961) 23; C. Bradford Welles, AM 66 (1962) 411.