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Mathematical Treasures - The David Eugene Smith Collection

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz


Index to the Collection of Mathematical Treasures from the David Eugene Smith and George Arthur Plimpton collections

David Eugene Smith (1860-1944) was a driving force and innovator in mathematics education. As the chairman of the mathematics education department at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Smith led the way in teaching reforms attuned to the Progressive Education Movement. He firmly believed that the teaching of mathematics should be closely associated with the history of the subject. As an historian of mathematics, he wrote and lectured widely on the subject and also collected historical mathematical materials: texts, documents and artifacts.

When Smith began giving his collection to the Columbia University Libraries in 1931, it included 12,000 printed books on the history of mathematics, ranging from the 15th through the 20th century. It also included 35 boxes of historical documents relating to mathematics; 140 boxes of his own professional papers; 350 volumes of western European manuscripts dating from the 15th to the early 20th century; 670 volumes of Oriental (primarily Arabic and Persian) manuscripts dating from the 8th to the early 20th century; 88 volumes of Chinese manuscripts; 363 volumes of Japanese manuscripts; 3,000 prints and portraits of mathematicians; and some 300 mathematical instruments and related objects.

Today, the collections of Smith and his friend, George Arthur Plimpton, exist as rich resources for understanding the development of mathematics and the lives and work of many of the persons responsible for its advance. These archives are available to researchers through the Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Columbia University. The Mathematical Association of America, in cooperation with the Columbia University Libraries, is pleased to display a selection of items, Mathematical Treasures from the Plimpton and Smith Collections, from these two separate collections. The editors of Convergence would like to particularly thank Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Jennifer Lee, Librarian for Public Service and Programs, for their assistance in making this display possible.

A list of images in Convergence from the Plimpton and Smith collections can be found in our Index to the Collection of Mathematical Treasures from the David Eugene Smith and George Arthur Plimpton collections. Each item from the Plimpton and Smith collections is posted here in Convergence at the standard web resolution of 72dpi. But if you right-click on the name of the item, found in the first sentence of the item description, you can download the item as a tif file at a resolution of approximately 150-200dpi (3-5mb) as well. That version should be suitable for most purposes in a classroom setting. If you want a version in even higher resolution, please contact the second author, Victor Katz. (Note that if you just click on the name of the item, you will get the tif file on your screen, but you may not be able to save it to your computer.)

These images may be used for instructional and educational purposes; for all other uses, please obtain permission from the Columbia University Libraries.

Index to the Collection of Mathematical Treasures from the David Eugene Smith and George Arthur Plimpton collections (alphabetical by author)

Index to the Convergence Collection of Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz, "Mathematical Treasures - The David Eugene Smith Collection," Loci (January 2011)

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED

Mathematical Treasures from the Smith and Plimpton Collections at Columbia University