Mathematics Magazine began as the Mathematics News Letter. It was started by the Louisiana-Mississippi Section of the MAA, which worked closely with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The Mathematics News Letter was endorsed by presidents of Louisiana and Mississippi colleges and universities, superintendents of Louisiana and of the Mississippi Education Association, and the national officers of the MAA: president Dunham Jackson, vice president Herbert Slaught, and secretary-treasurer William Cairns. According to its first issue, the Mathematics News Letter aimed
to bring high school and college mathematics teachers of Louisiana and Mississippi into closer professional contact through the medium of a common membership in the Mathematical Association of America.
Samuel Thomas Sanders, a professor at Louisiana State University (LSU) and chairman of the Louisiana-Mississippi Section, founded the magazine in 1926. In 1928, he and Louisiana high school teacher Henry Schroeder were named editors, but by 1929, Sanders was listed as editor-in-chief. Sanders continued to edit and manage the publication through 1945.
In 1934, the magazine expanded to a national focus and was renamed the National Mathematics Magazine. At this stage, LSU began to fund the magazine, with Sanders continuing as editor. The Magazine included the following sections: Teacher's Department, Notes and News Department, Book Review Department, Problem Department, and Humanism and History of Mathematics.
Due to severe 1942 budget cuts under Louisiana governor Huey Long, LSU's financial support of the Magazine was reduced from $2,700 to $600. The MAA provided $400 to help that year, $200 in 1944, and $200 in 1945, but in 1945 voted not to take over the National Mathematics Magazine. Sanders, having been forced into retirement a few years earlier, could not continue supporting the Magazine by himself, and it was not published in 1946.
The Magazine was revived when Glenn James (University of California at Los Angeles) took over the journal in 1947. It resumed production under his editorship as Mathematics Magazine, at the suggestion of Edwin Beckenbach (University of California at Los Angeles) that it had international appeal. It continued to emphasize expository articles but began to include more research papers.
James cut costs by producing the magazine in his home with the help of his family. Mathematics Magazine subscribers increased from a few hundred to 2,200. In 1959, when James realized he could not continue as editor and began negotiations with the MAA, the Magazine was financially sound.
In 1961, Mathematics Magazine became an official MAA publication, owned and supported by the MAA. At this time, Mathematics Magazine was described as devoted to collegiate mathematics, between the levels of the American Mathematical Monthly and the Mathematics Teacher (a publication of NCTM).
The Mathematical Association of America: Its First Fifty Years, Kenneth O. May, p. 137
"Mathematics Magazine: The First Half Century," Edwin F. Beckenbach