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A Station Favorable to the Pursuits of Science: Primary Materials in the History of Mathematics at the United States Military Academy
Joe Albree, Auburn University at Montgomery, AL, and David C. Arney and V. Frederick Rickey, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
A co-publication of the AMS and the London Mathematical Society.

History of Mathematics
2000; 272 pp; hardcover
Volume: 18
ISBN-10: 0-8218-2059-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8218-2059-9
List Price: US$72
Member Price: US$57.60
Order Code: HMATH/18
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This book reveals the rich collection of mathematical works located at the nation's first military school, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It outlines the relevant history of the Academy, discusses the mathematics department and curriculum, and describes the development of the library during the nineteenth century. A major part of this book is an annotated catalog of the more than 1300 works published between 1496 and 1915 found in the West Point library.

Mathematics and its instruction greatly influenced the development of the Academy, the technological growth of America's army, and the standards of the military profession. These events, in turn, were crucial to the overall development of mathematics, mechanics, and engineering during the nineteenth century in the United States. Three individuals played a prominent role in this chronicle: Sylvanus Thayer, Charles Davies, and Albert Church.

Listed are rare and historically valuable works in a broad range of mathematical subjects. The collection clearly shows the strong European influence on the early Academy. Also listed are numerous textbooks by West Point faculty and graduates; significant contributions were made by these writers to algebra, geometry, calculus, descriptive geometry, mechanics, surveying, and mathematics education.

This book provides an important resource for the general audience as well as for those in pursuit of more scholarly information. It contains many interesting photographs and valuable details about the West Point collection. It is a must-have for anyone interested in mathematical books and collections.


General mathematical audience; mathematical educators and historians.


"This book reveals a rich collection of mathematical works located at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The book contains lots of interesting photographs and valuable details about the West Point collection."

-- Mathematica Bohemica

"The heart of this valuable reference work is the first complete, unified bibliographical listing of the 1,340 extant mathematical items acquired by the United States Military Academy at West Point from its founding in 1802 to the beginning of the First World War."

-- Mathematical Reviews

"Reveals the rich collection of mathematical works located at West Point ... contains ... photographs of attractive and interesting title pages, frontispieces and other visual features ... provides an important source for a general audience, as well as for those looking for more scholarly information."

-- European Mathematical Society Newsletter

"The [United States] Military Academy today contains an impressive collection of valuable resources for historians of mathematics. This book is a lovingly-prepared catalog of the materials at the USMA library that would be of interest to historians. This useful resource for historians would make a great addition to any mathematics library."

-- MAA Online

"The edition is carefully done, the 40-page introductory chapter [is] informative and captivating, and above all, the rich bibliography and the annotated catalog can prove of great utility for a historian of American mathematical education and research."

-- Zentralblatt MATH

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Catalog of the West Point collection
  • Catalog of 1803 Inventory of books, maps and charts, belonging to the Military Academy at West Point
  • Photographs
  • Portraits in the collection
  • Frontispieces in the collection
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