An MAA Section viewed as a microcosm of the American mathematical community in the twentieth century.
Elkins Park PA 19027
David E. Zitarelli
Department of Mathematics
Copyright © (2001) by Raymond-Reese Book Company, a division of Condor Publishing, Inc.
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EPADEL: A Sesquicentennial History, 1926-2000
The AMS 1
The Monthly 2
The MAA 3
Atlantic Apathy 7
The First Community 8
The Philadelphia Story 12
Organizational Meeting 13
Annual Meeting 16
Profiles: A. A. Bennett, H. H. Mitchell, J. B. Reynolds 21
First Seven Meetings 29
Organizational Meeting 37
Second Meeting 39
Profiles: Arnold Dresden, J. R. Kline 48
Annual Meetings 53
Themes of Lectures 61
Profiles: Hans Rademacher, J. A. Shohat 70
Annual Meetings 73
Themes of Lectures 89
Profiles: J. C. Oxtoby, G. C. Webber, A. P. Wheeler 94
Annual Meetings 100
Themes of Lectures 124
Profiles: W. E. Baxter, A. M. Lehr, 128
D. J. Schattschneider, A. Wilansky
Annual Meetings 138
Themes of Lectures 161
Profile: M. L. Brubaker 167
Annual Meetings 171
Combined Meetings 172
Chronological Survey 174
Profile: G. J. Porter 185
1. Profiles and Sketches 190
2. W. Baxter – History of EPADEL (1990) 191
3. Officers (Chairs, Secretary-Treasurers, 195
Governors, Executive Committee)
4. Newsletter Editors 200
5. Invited Lectures 201
6. Meetings 209
he Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is the world’s largest organization devoted to the interests of collegiate mathematics, with a major emphasis on the teaching of mathematics at the collegiate level. The MAA is different from many professional mathematical organizations in one vital respect – more activity takes place within its sections than at its national meetings.
chronicles the history of one of those sections during its first 75 years.
Chapter 1 provides a background to the establishment of the section by
outlining the formation of the two major mathematical organizations in the
country and their sections – the MAA and the AMS (American Mathematical
Society). Chapter 2 discusses the founding of the Philadelphia Section in
November 1926. The Section initially included all of central
This book has been written so all chapters can be read independently. Thus someone who is not interested in the distant past, but wants to recall activities and leaders from, say, the sixties, can jump to the corresponding chapter with impunity. On the other hand, reading the book from front to back provides a greater appreciation for the incremental changes that have taken place over the 75- year duration.
The emphasis of this book, however, is not strictly on the mathematical developments that took place. Rather, the strength of the MAA – and its sections – lies with the vast army of volunteers who march to the front line with plans of actions. Consequently this account emphasizes the people who made the section what it is. In this sense, the book attempts to bring the sectional leaders to life by interspersing biographical sketches into the narrative. Some of theses leaders have been so active – and decorated on a national scale – that larger profiles are provided at the end of chapters. Altogether 16 personalities have been profiled; 88 others have biographical sketches. Appendix 1 provides an alphabetical list of all 104 of them.
Sometimes, finding details about these personalities has presented a daunting task, because few departments have kept very good records. However, I have been helped enormously by several archivists, to whom EPADEL and I owe a great debt of gratitude: Claire L. Andrews and John A. Erdmann (Kutztown), Raymond Butti (Brown), James Duffin and Ryan M. Janda (Penn), Daniel R. Gilbert (Moravian), Philip A. Metzger (Lehigh), Patricia O’Donnell (Swarthmore), Diana F. Peterson (Haverford), Ann W. Upton (F&M), and Carolyn Weigel (Ursinus).
Many present EPADEL members have also aided me in locating information. I will not attempt to list all of them here, partly for fear of omitting someone who spent a lot of time searching for, say, the exact year of retirement of a colleague. However, I hereby acknowledge the invaluable help I received from a few people who are not sketched in this work: Stephen F. Andrilli (LaSalle), James P. Crawford (Lafayette), Penelope H. Dunham (Muhlenberg), Gary L. Ebert (Delaware), Frederick W. Hartmann (Villanova), Everett Pitcher (Lehigh), Chris Rorres (Drexel), George M. Rosenstein, Jr. (F&M), Jeff Tecosky-Feldman (Haverford), and Paul R. Wolfson (West Chester).
particularly indebted to
addition, I gratefully thank William Dunham (Muhlenberg), for his detailed
proofreading of an earlier version of the entire manuscript, and Raymond F.
David E. Zitarelli
he MAA has played a large role in my professional
life since my undergraduate days at
The first occurred while I was in the school’s library doing research for a term paper in one of two required composition courses. Taking a break from Occam’s Razor, I perused the stacks in the school’s small library, which then consisted of only two rooms. Although a general science major, I maintained a strong interest in mathematics, so my eyes were drawn to the only magazine on mathematics in the stacks, the American Mathematical Monthly. I soon learned to call it a “journal” instead of a “magazine”. But I found the articles inscrutable. A year later, having scanned every issue of the journal upon its arrival, I asked Professor Claude Helms, then head of the department, “What’s topology?” “Some newfangled theory,” he replied offhandedly.
encouraged me to write Harry Gehman, whose name was listed on the cover of the Monthly. That led to the second event
that would define my career, because the longtime MAA
secretary-treasurer responded with a detailed, personal letter explaining the
path I should follow to study topology. He also invited me to apply for
membership in the MAA. So began my first, tentative steps toward becoming a
mathematician, though an algebraist and not a topologist. Upon transferring to
decisive event took place when the
These three events - discovering the Monthly, joining the MAA, and attending its sectional meetings - conspired to draw me ineluctably to the present work. They also highlighted the central role that individuals play in our professional development. It is my grandest hope that this book enables other sectional members to understand and to appreciate our rich heritage. I also hope that other mathematicians will learn about the important role this local microcosm has played in the more global American mathematical community.