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The Emergence of the American Mathematical Research Community, 1876-1900: J. J. Sylvester, Felix Klein, and E. H. Moore
Karen Hunger Parshall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, and David E. Rowe, University Mainz, Germany
A co-publication of the AMS and the London Mathematical Society.

History of Mathematics
1994; 500 pp; softcover
Volume: 8
Reprint/Revision History:
reprinted with corrections 1997
ISBN-10: 0-8218-0907-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-0907-5
List Price: US$50
Member Price: US$40
Order Code: HMATH/8.S
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This volume traces the transformation of the United States from a mathematical backwater to a major presence during the quarter-century from 1876 to 1900. Presenting a detailed study of the major figures involved in this transformation, it focuses on the three most influential individuals--the British algebraist James Joseph Sylvester, the German standard-bearer Felix Klein, and the American mathematician Eliakim Hastings Moore--and on the principal institutions with which they were associated--the Johns Hopkins University, Göttingen University, and the University of Chicago. This book further analyzes the research traditions these men and their institutions represented, the impact they had on the second generation of American mathematical researchers, and the role of the American Mathematical Society in these developments. This is the first work ever written on the history of American mathematics during this period and one of the few books that examines the historical development of American mathematics from a wide perspective. By placing the development of American mathematics within the context of broader external factors affecting historical events, the authors show how the character of American research was decisively affected by the surrounding scientific, educational, and social contexts of the period. Aimed at a general mathematical audience and at historians of science, this book contains an abundance of unpublished archival material, numerous rare photographs, and an extensive bibliography.


General mathematical audience, particularly those interested in the history of American mathematics and science.


"Fine and extensive account of the growth of mathematics in the United States ... completed by a fine bibliography and index ... Professional research-level mathematics, in quantity, came late to the United States; however, once inaugurated ... it rose more like a liftoff than a takeoff. This book admirably records the countdown and launch."

-- Isis

"Though there exist several detailed presentations of the history of American science, a history of American mathematics was still missing. The present book intends to fill this gap in the case of the period 1876-1900 ... In an excellent way this book gives an incredible amount of details, never losing sight of the whole. Thirteen tables and a subject index make information easy. The authors did not only use published sources ... but also manuscript material from several archives. There are included many photos, some of them being published for the first time. This book is a sound and high quality investigation."

-- Zentralblatt MATH

"This fascinating book is a contribution to the history of American science, but it is also written for a general mathematical audience. For those of us who have made our careers in American mathematics and are interested in understanding our intellectual heritage, it is essential reading ... The mathematics is treated fairly thoroughly, but in the main this is a work of educational history."

-- Mathematical Reviews

"One of the best books in the history of mathematics. Thoroughly referenced, it will satisfy your academic and historical urges."

-- Journal of Recreational Mathematics

Table of Contents

  • An overview of American mathematics: 1776-1876
  • A new departmental prototype: J. J. Sylvester and the Johns Hopkins University
  • Mathematics at Sylvester's Hopkins
  • German mathematics and the early mathematical career of Felix Klein
  • America's wanderlust generation
  • Changes on the horizon
  • The World's Columbian exposition of 1893 and the Chicago Mathematical Congress
  • Surveying mathematical landscapes: The Evanston Colloquium Lectures
  • Meeting the challenge: The University of Chicago and the American mathematical research community
  • Epilogue: Beyond the threshold: The American mathematical research community, 1900-1933
  • Bibliography
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