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Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Mathematics


Mathematics at Northwestern University has been taught since the University itself first offered classes. One of the University's three original faculty members appointed in 1854 was Henry S. Noyes, professor of mathematics. Noyes held major responsibility for mathematics instruction at Northwestern until 1871 when Julius F. Kellogg took over the department chairmanship. Kellogg held this position until his death in 1894. During the University's early years, the mathematics curriculum centered on algebra, plane and spherical trigonometry, the beginnings of analytical geometry and differential and integral calculus. Until the appointment of George Washington Hough in 1888 and, later, the completion of Dearborn Observatory, coursework in astronomy also had been offered through the department. In 1894, the first advanced courses designed primarily for graduate students were offered. Notable early faculty members include Eliakim Bastings Moore and Henry S. White, who served as department chairman from 1894 to 1905.

Later departmental heads include: David R. Curtiss (1905-1935), E.J. Moulton (1935-1943), H.T. Davis (1948-1955), and Ralph P. Boas, Jr. (1955-1972). Boas, a noted researcher in mathematical functions and analysis, served as executive editor of Mathematical Reviews for a number of years and was as well editor of the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. During his tenure the department participated in a general expansion of academic research in mathematics. In 1955 there were fourteen members of Northwestern's mathematics faculty, by 1972 this number had grown to more than forty.

In 1972 the departmental chairmanship became a rotating position with a term of three years. Since 1972, there have been five chairmen, Mark Mahowald (1972-1975), Daniel Zelinsky (1975-1978), Meyer Dwass (1978-1981), Donald G. Saari (1981-1984), and R. Clark Robinson (1984-1987).

Furthern information regarding the department's history may be found in: Thomas F. Holgate, A History of the Department of Mathematics, Northwestern University, 1955-1905 (1941).

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Thomas Franklin Holgate (1859-1945) Papers

Identifier: 3/12
Abstract The Thomas Franklin Holgate Papers offer a brief glimpse of the work of a competent university administrator during the first two decades of the Twentieth Century; a view of an effective and practical promoter of higher education for blacks; a productive and stimulating teacher and writer in mathematics; and an administrator (especially in financial matters) sought-after by many educational and religious organizations. The papers are arranged in five main categories: biographical material;...
Dates: 1892-1973