The Max Dehn Papers at the Center for American History’s Archives of American Mathematics tell the story of an established Jewish mathematician from Germany leaving his homeland under pressure from the Nazis and finishing his career in the United States, moving from one mathematically low-profile position to another. It is not a unique story, but the breadth and detail of the papers collected at the AAM make it an important part of the history of American mathematics.
Mathematician C.L. Siegel wrote this article, Über Riemann's arithmetischer Nachlass" ("On Riemann's arithmetical Nachlass"), as part of a tribute to Arthur Schoenflies, whom Siegel had replaced as professor of mathematics at Frankfurt University six years earlier. His colleague Max Dehn, a former assistant of David Hilbert, organized the compliation of the manuscript. From the Max Dehn Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Dehn (1878-1952) earned his doctorate at Göttingen in 1900 under the direction of David Hilbert. He spent the majority of his career in Germany at Frankfurt University, where he served as the chair of Pure and Applied Mathematics from 1921-1935. In Germany he wrote one of the first systematic expositions of topology and developed important problems on group presentations. His scope of research included geometry, topology, group theory, and the history of mathematics. In 1938 he was forced to leave the university by the Nazis. He first took a position in Scandinavia, and in 1940 came to the United States by an Eastern route through Russia and Japan.
After arriving in the United States, Dehn held several temporary appointments including positions at the University of Idaho in Pocatello, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and St John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, before becoming the first mathematician on the staff of Black Mountain College, an un-accredited creative arts college in North Carolina. Dehn remained in North Carolina until his death in 1952.
The Max Dehn Papers at the AAM include lecture notes by E. Hellinger; and correspondence, notebooks, manuscripts of publications, reprints, and lecture and course notes by Dehn. Correspondents include E. Artin, O. Blumenthal, H. Bohr, S. Breuer, C. Caratheodory, M. Kneser, E. Noether, M. Pasch, O. Toeplitz, and E. Zermelo. The majority of the materials are written in German, with some English and French.
The finding aid for the Max Dehn Papers is available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00192/cah-00192.html.
The Archives of American Mathematics is located at the Research and Collections division of the Center for American History on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Persons interested in conducting research or donating materials or who have general questions about the Archives of American Mathematics should contact Kristy Sorensen, Archivist, email@example.com, (512) 495-4539. The Archives web page: http://www.cah.utexas.edu/collectioncomponents/math.html.