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Mathematical Treasure: Maria Agnesi’s Analytical Institutions in English

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

When Maria Gaëtana Agnesi (1718-1799) published the first volume of Instituzioni Analitiche in 1748, it caused quite a sensation. Not only was it one of the first calculus books published in Europe, but its author was a woman. In 1801, the first English edition of her work was published as Analytical Institutions, based on a translation written by the British mathematician John Colson (1680-1760).

Title page for English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

The editor’s “Advertisement” heaps much praise on both Agnesi and Colson.

Editor's "Advertisement" for English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

The “Table of the Contents” provides an outline of the material considered within Agnesi’s original four volumes.

First page of Table of Contents for English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

Second page of Table of Contents for English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

Third page of Table of Contents for English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

John Colson’s plan to use his translation to stimulate an interest in mathematics among British women is rather interesting at this period of British social history.

First page of "The Plan of the Lady's System of Analyticks" from English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

Second page of "The Plan of the Lady's System of Analyticks" from English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

Third page of "The Plan of the Lady's System of Analyticks" from English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

Fourth page of "The Plan of the Lady's System of Analyticks" from English Translation of Maria Agnesi's Analytical Institutions published in 1801

For images from two other copies of this book, see Mathematical Treasures – Maria Agnesi’s Analytical Institutions and Mathematical Treasure: Maria Agnesi’s Analytical Institutions in Italian and English.

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the University of California Libraries. The book may be viewed in its entirety in the Internet Archive.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University) , "Mathematical Treasure: Maria Agnesi’s Analytical Institutions in English," Convergence (January 2018)

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