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More letters from alumni about PU's Department of Mathematics

May 22, 2001

Nearly 50 years ago PAW published what it proudly announced as its longest and best feature article to date describing the history of the Princeton University math department through the mid-’50s. In the mid-’80s one of the figures in that article, Albert Tucker, department head at the time of the original article and Ph.D. adviser of Nobel laureate John Nash *50, was moved to preserve the history of an important and exciting decade for Princeton mathematics, the ’30s, during much of which the newly established Institute for Advanced Study shared quarters with the math department in the old Fine Hall, now Jones Hall. With William Aspray and Frederik Nebecker and important help from Charles Gillispie, an oral history project was completed interviewing many of the participants from that period who were still alive then.

This past year both the oral history project and documents describing the background of the story and some later followup materials (including that PAW article) were put on-line as part of the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library (http://www.princeton.edu/mudd/math), where they may be enjoyed by anyone with some interest in the history of science. However, the decades of the ’40s and ’50s have few supporting documents to fill in the picture afterwards. I ask anyone who knows of such documents to alert me or the archivists at Mudd. This will help preserve Princeton's unique history in this area before it is lost.

Robert Jantzen '74 robert.jantzen@villanova.edu
Radnor, Pa.

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