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Buchanan, Herbert Earle (04 October 1881–17 January 1974), mathematician, astronomer, and educator, was born in Cane Hill, Arkansas, the son of James A. Buchanan, farmer, surveyor, and Presbyterian minister, and Susan Clark Williamson. Until he was fourteen, he was educated at home and in a local “subscription” school (in other words, several families got up a “subscription” to hire a teacher for several months of the year). Then he moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas’s Preparatory School. There Buchanan discovered his love and talent for mathematics. However, lack of money eventually sent him back to the family farm for more than a year before he was able to finish the preparatory school and enter the university in 1898. He took an A.B. with honors in mathematics in 1902. During his senior year the sudden death of one of his professors gave Buchanan the opportunity to teach mathematics, launching a career that spanned fifty-two years of service....

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Caldwell, Joseph (21 April 1773–27 January 1835), astronomer, mathematician, and educator, was born in Lamington, New Jersey, the son of Joseph Caldwell and Rachel Harker. The death of her husband just two days before Joseph’s birth left Rachel Caldwell nearly destitute. In 1784 she moved the family to Princeton, where the court ordered eleven-year-old Joseph to be bound out to a printer. His mother immediately took steps to place him in a local grammar school; her intervention brought Joseph under the guidance of the eminent ...

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Chauvenet, William (24 May 1820–13 December 1870), mathematician and educator, was born in Milford, Pennsylvania, the son of William Marc Chauvenet, a farmer and later a businessman, and Mary Kerr. Chauvenet was educated in a private school in Philadelphia by Dr. Samuel Jones, and his academic record was so impressive that Jones persuaded the elder Chauvenet that his son should attend Yale University rather than become a merchant. The young Chauvenet showed a market aptitude for mathematics, and upon learning that Yale required a knowledge of both Latin and Greek he mastered these languages in one year. He entered Yale in 1836, and at the end of his first year there he took the first prize for Latin composition. His studies at Yale included both the classics and mathematics, and he received his A.B. with high honors in 1840....

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Courant, Richard (08 January 1888–27 January 1972), mathematician and educator, was born in Lublinitz, Upper Silesia (then Germany), the son of Siegmund Courant, an unsuccessful small businessman, and Martha Freund. By the age of fourteen, Courant was living alone in Breslau and supporting himself by tutoring. At nineteen he followed enthusiastic friends to Göttingen, where the mathematician Felix Klein had gathered a brilliant constellation of scientists and philosophers around his younger colleague, the mathematician David Hilbert. Contact with this scientifically electric atmosphere was the determining event in Courant’s life as mathematician, teacher, writer, administrator, and tireless promotor of the unity of the mathematical sciences....

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Eisenhart, Luther Pfahler (13 January 1876–28 October 1965), mathematician and educator, was born in York, Pennsylvania, the son of Charles Augustus Eisenhart and Emma Catherine Pfahler. His father had successively been a dentist, businessman, inventor, and organizer of electric light and telephone services in York. After an independent program of studies, the young Eisenhart entered Gettysburg College in 1892 and obtained his B.A. in mathematics in 1896. In his final two years at Gettysburg, he pursued a course of independent reading and guided study in advanced mathematics. After a year of teaching at the preparatory school of Gettysburg College, Eisenhart began graduate work at the Johns Hopkins University in 1897 and received his Ph.D. in 1900 with a dissertation, “Infinitesimal Deformation of Surfaces,” chosen and written on his own initiative....

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Greenwood, Isaac (11 May 1702–12 October 1745), professor of mathematics and experimental philosophy, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Greenwood and Elizabeth Bronsdon (occupations unknown). Baptized and raised in Increase Mather and Cotton Mather’s North Church, Greenwood followed the Mathers in their scientific interests. At Harvard College he became a favorite of tutor ...

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Patterson, Robert (30 May 1743–22 July 1824), mathematician, educator, and public official, was born on a lease-held farm near Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, the son of Robert Patterson and Jane Walker, probably farmers. Patterson attended school at an early age and was an avid learner. He excelled in mathematics, but his family could not afford to finance a university education for him. When the French invaded Ireland in 1759, he enlisted in the militia, served for a year, and rose to the rank of sergeant. As a consequence, he was offered a commission in the regular army, which he refused. Instead, he returned home to work on the family farm. In October 1768, in an attempt to improve his situation and to act as a scout for his family, he emigrated to America. He arrived in Philadelphia almost penniless....

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Pierce, Joseph Alphonso (10 August 1902–18 September 1969), mathematician and educator, was born in Waycross, Georgia, the son of William Arthur Pierce, a Methodist minister, and Fannie McGraw. Orphaned at an early age, Pierce was raised by his maternal uncle, Joseph McGraw, in Waycross. Following studies in sociology and business and participation in varsity football, in 1925 Pierce received a B.A. degree from Atlanta University. He accepted an assignment as assistant coach at Texas College in Tyler, Texas, but upon arrival he learned that he would also be required to teach mathematics. Four years of teaching mathematics proved so agreeable that Pierce adopted it as his profession. He returned to school at the University of Michigan to earn an M.S. in mathematics in 1930, and he became professor of mathematics at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Pierce married Juanita George in 1933; they had one child....

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Prager, William (23 May 1903–16 March 1980), professor of engineering and applied mathematics, was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, the son of Willy Prager and Helen Kimmel. In 1925 he received an engineering degree from the Technical University of Darmstadt and married (Gertrude) Ann Heyer; they had one son. He earned a doctorate in Engineering Sciences from the same institution one year later and remained as an instructor in mechanics there until 1929. At the remarkably young age of twenty-six Prager moved to the University of Göttingen as the acting director of its famous Institute for Applied Mechanics. At age thirty he returned to Karlsruhe as professor of technical mechanics at the Institute of Technology, becoming the youngest professor in Germany at the time. At this point in his career he had already published a book and more than thirty papers and was internationally known and respected as an engineer and applied mathematician for his contributions to the statics and dynamics of structures and to the theories of elasticity and plasticity....

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Runkle, John Daniel (11 October 1822–08 July 1902), mathematician and educator, was born at Root, a farming community in Montgomery County, New York, the son of Daniel Runkle and Sara Gordon, farmers. The name Runkle goes back to castle Runkle near Limburg in West Germany. Runkle worked on the farm, educating himself as best he could, especially in mathematics. He taught at Onondaga Academy for three years, until 1847, when he had the opportunity to enter the newly founded Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University. There he studied under the Harvard mathematician ...

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Scott, Charlotte Angas (08 June 1858–08 November 1931), mathematician and educator, was born in Lincoln, England, the daughter of Caleb Scott and Eliza Ann Exley. Her father was pastor of the Congregational church in Lincoln and served as principal of the Lancashire Independent College (now the Congregational College) near Manchester. When Scott was a child, mathematical and logical games formed part of her home entertainment. Both gifted and diligent, she was privately tutored at home....

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Story, William Edward (29 April 1850–10 April 1930), mathematician and educator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Isaac Story, a lawyer, and Elizabeth Bowen Woodberry. Story entered Harvard College in 1867 and was one of the first to graduate with honors (in 1871), a year after the honors program was instituted. After graduation he went to Germany for further study. In Berlin he attended lectures of the noted mathematicians Karl Weierstrass and Ernst Kummer as well as of the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz. Story also took courses under the mathematician and theoretical physicist Carl Neumann in Leipzig, where Story received a Ph.D. in 1875 for his dissertation titled “On the Algebraic Relations Existing between the Polars of Binary Quantic.” On his return to the United States in 1875 he became a tutor at Harvard. This position enabled him to renew his acquaintance with the family of Harvard mathematician and astronomer ...

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Stringham, Irving (10 December 1847–05 October 1909), mathematician and educator, was born Washington Irving Stringham in Yorkshire Center, New York, the son of Henry Stringham and Eliza Tomlinson. Young Stringham attended preparatory school in Topeka, Kansas, and from 1866 to 1873 worked and attended Washburn College on a part-time basis. He then entered Harvard, where in 1877 he received his A.B. There he was heavily influenced by ...