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Mathematical Treasure: Peirce’s Early 20th Century Papers

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Benjamin Osgood Peirce (1854-1914) served as the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard University from 1888 until 1913, shortly before his death. He is remembered as one of America’s first great applied mathematicians. In 1926, a collection of his major papers was published by Harvard as Mathematical and Physical Papers of Benjamin Osgood Peirce 1903-1913.

The “Table of Contents” indicates the scope of Peirce’s work during this time. Note the applied nature of most of Peirce's work.

A sample first page from one of Peirce’s papers on vector calculus:

Theses images were obtained through the courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library and were digitized by the University of California Libraries. The complete work can be viewed at

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Peirce’s Early 20th Century Papers," Convergence (July 2016)