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Earle Raymond Hedrick, 1916 MAA President

Born: September 27, 1876, Union City, Indiana
Died: February 3, 1943, Los Angeles, California

Earle Raymond Hedrick was the first president of the MAA. In addition to his involvement with the founding and early years of the MAA, he is known for his mathematics research and editorial work, as well as for his interests in the applications of mathematics to engineering problems and in mathematics education.

Presidency: 1916

Hedrick served as an editor of the American Mathematical Monthlyfrom 1912 to 1915, when many mathematicians were considering whether the American Mathematical Society (AMS) should expand to support the teaching of collegiate mathematics and the Monthly, the only journal on the subject. Hedrick strongly favored this proposal to the suggested alternative of the creation of a new society to cover this field. On April 28, 1914, he wrote,

I am firmly opposed to the creation of an organization other than the Society which should undertake to support the Monthly and ask the support as members of these people. Indeed, unless absolutely forced, I would refuse to join in the formation of such an organization other than the Society.

On April 23 of the following year, the AMS decided not to take over support of the Monthly, instead encouraging the creation of a new society. On December 30-31, 1915, despite his earlier protestation, Hedrick presided over the founding meeting of this society, soon named the Mathematical Association of America. He was elected president.

The first annual summer meeting of the MAA was held September 1-2, 1916, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, near the time of the AMS summer meeting. The second annual winter meeting was held December 28-30 at Columbia University in affiliation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among the 184 attendees were 14 MAA presidents: Hedrick, Cajori, Huntington, Slaught, Smith, Miller, Archibald, Rietz, Coolidge, Jackson, Ford, Young, Carver, and Cairns.

The MAA had more than a thousand individual members by the end of 1916. In his retiring presidential address on "The Significance of Mathematics," Hedrick highlighted the utility of applied mathematics and the need to promote public appreciation of it.

Education and Career

Hedrick earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan from 1892 to 1896. He taught in a high school for a year before pursuing his master's degree at Harvard, which he completed in 1898. On a fellowship, he studied in Germany for two years at the University of Göttingen. Supervised by David Hilbert, he completed his doctorate degree in 1901. He spent part of 1901 on another fellowship at the École Normale Supérieure in France.

Hedrick taught as an instructor at Yale University (1901-1903), a professor at the University of Missouri (1903-1924), and a professor and department head at the University of California at Los Angeles (1924-1937). He was vice president and provost of UCLA from 1937 to 1942.

Hedrick's only Ph.D. student was Eula Adeline Weeks (University of Missouri, 1915). Weeks is profiled in Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD's.

In addition to being president of the MAA and editor of the MAA journal, Hedrick was the 1929-1930 president of the AMS and editor of the Bulletin of the AMS from 1921 to 1937.

External Resources

MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive biography

AMS Presidents Timeline biography

Volume I: A Semicentennial History of the American Mathematical Society, 1888-1938 by Raymond Clare Archibald, Chapter XV: The Presidents (pdf), pp. 223-28.

American Mathematical Monthly obituary by W.B. Ford

E.R. Hedrick Collection, 1905-1907 at the Archives of American Mathematics

Records of editors, presidents, and secretaries from MAA headquarters, E.R. Hedrick, 1917-1943 at the Archives of American Mathematics

E.R. Hedrick Papers, 1897-1943

The Mathematical Association of America Earle Raymond Hedrick Lectures

The Mathematics Genealogy Project