John Wesley Young, 1929-1930 MAA President
Born: November 17, 1879, Columbus, Ohio
Died: February 17, 1932, Hanover, New Hampshire
John Wesley Young was a mathematics professor at Dartmouth College and an editor, textbook author, and leader in professional mathematics organizations.
In his retiring presidential address, "Functions of the Mathematical Association of America," Young summarized the functions of the MAA as follows: "Everything that is worth doing for mathematics, other than research, is a function of the Association."
Education and Career
Young's brother-in-law E.H. Moore may have encouraged Young's interest in mathematics.
Between 1903 and 1911, Young held positions at Northwestern, Princeton, the University of Illinois, the University of Kansas, and the University of Chicago. He became acquainted with leading mathematicians, gained experience with different types of universities, and published several research articles during this time.
Young spent the remainder of his career as a professor at Dartmouth College. He was head of the department from 1911 to 1919 and chair of the department from 1923 to 1925. He continued teaching until two days before he died. Dartmouth now offers a postdoctoral John Wesley Young Mathematics Instructorship.
Young's interests included geometry, group theory, fundamental concepts of mathematics, and history of mathematics. With Oswald Veblen, he created a set of postulates for projective geometry. In 1910, they published Projective Geometry, which used their postulates to simplify much of geometry. Young coauthored several other books, including Plane Geometry, A Brief Course in Advanced Algebra, Lectures on Fundamental Concepts of Algebra and Geometry, and A Short History of Mathematics, which has an introduction by D.E. Smith.
Young was active in the MAA and in the American Mathematical Society (AMS). He was a charter member of the MAA, elected at its founding meeting to its first executive council (1916-17). He later served on the executive council again in 1920-22, was vice president in 1918 and 1926, and chaired a national committee on mathematics education requirements from 1916 to 1923. He served as editor of the Bulletin of the AMS and as a member of the AMS council for eighteen years.