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Archives of American Mathematics Spotlight: The Alfred Schild Papers

Archives of American Mathematics Spotlight:
The Alfred Schild Papers

By Nikki Thomas


Undated portrait of Alfred Schild, from the Alfred Schild Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

The Alfred Schild Papers at the Archives of American Mathematics (AAM) have recently been reorganized to make this extensive collection more accessible to researchers. Additionally, the archivists created a more detailed inventory of the papers, currently available on the AAM website, and completed preservation work that will ensure the collection s availability to researchers for many years to come.

Alfred Schild (1921 1977) was a mathematical physicist specializing in relativity and gravitation. He was named one of the first Ashbel Smith professors in 1963 and co-founded the first Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics. He was also one of the founders of the International Committee on Gravitation and General Relativity, the Center for Particle Theory, the Center for Statistical Mechanics, and the Center for Relativity Theory at the University of Texas at Austin. Schild's work concentrated on foundations of relativity, quantization, algebraically special solutions, and conformal techniques. His later research dealt particularly with Fokker action principles and string models of particles.


Schild s mathematical research notes on geometry without points, from the Alfred Schild Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


llustration used by Schild in a projective geometry lecture, from the Alfred Schild Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Schild was born in Istanbul in 1921 to German parents. He received his primary education in England, but was sent to Canada during World War II, where he resumed his education at the University of Toronto, earning both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Schild also received his PhD (1946) from the University of Toronto under the direction of Leopold Infeld. He continued his career in mathematics as a professor at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in 1957, where he remained until his death.

This collection consists of eighteen feet of notes and drafts for publications, seminar papers, lecture and teaching notes, grant proposals, literary productions, reprints, photographs, and a sound recording. There are notes, manuscripts, and correspondence relating to Schild's book Tensor Calculus (1949), coauthored with J.L. Synge. Schild's work in the founding and administration of the UT Center for Relativity Theory and the Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics is represented, as are records of his consulting work with Gulf Research and Development. Most of the material is from Schild's years in Texas and the collection is especially strong in documenting the formation and activities of the Texas group of relativists. Major correspondents include P.A.M. Dirac and L. Infeld.

The finding aid for the Arthur Schild Papers is available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00480/cah-00480.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, k.sorensen@mail.utexas.edu, (512) 495-4539. The Archives web page can be found at http://www.cah.utexas.edu/collectioncomponents/math.html.

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