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Archives Spotlight: The MAA Records

The Mathematical Association of America Records

By Kristy Sorensen

The following article, featured as part of the Archives of American Mathematics Spotlight, was published in the November 2004 issue of MAA FOCUS. The full issue is available here (pdf).

Program from the 1916 annual MAA meeting

Program from the Second Annual Meeting of the MAA, December 28-30, 1916. (Click to enlarge.)
Source: The MAA Records at the Archives of American Mathematics.

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the Archives of American Mathematics (AAM) have had a close relationship for many years. Building on the presence of the papers of R.L. Moore and some of his colleagues and students, the AAM was established when the MAA chose the University of Texas at Austin as its official archival repository in 1978.

Since then, the AAM has collected numerous deposits of papers, photographs, and other records. The MAA Records held at the AAM total more than 300 linear feet. We now have a strong foundation of records in which mathematical historians, mathematicians, and members and officers of MAA can find valuable and unique information about the history and work of this professional organization.

I am working to develop a more focused appraisal strategy that can bring in the most historically relevant materials from all areas of the MAA. Too often important records are inadvertently destroyed or relegated to unopened basement files. Conversely, bulky day-to-day files can take up valuable space in offices or archival shelves. My goal is to create an appraisal strategy that will be flexible enough to allow for a variety of historical records, without opening the floodgates to unexamined materials.

To create an effective appraisal strategy, I'll need to hear from those of you who are creating potentially archival records. If you are an officer, a committee chair, a section leader, an editor, or someone involved with any of the many important records-creating positions in the MAA, I'd be happy to discuss your records with you.

To get an idea of what types of papers we currently hold, you may be interested to learn that the finding aid for the MAA Records was recently mounted on the Texas Archival Resources Online website. As is the case with any growing collection, the finding aid for the MAA Records is a work in progress. We expect it to grow, change, and become more refined as new groups of papers are brought into the archives, catalogued, and opened for research. The MAA Records is one of the core collections at the AAM, and we look forward to helping it evolve to help our researchers in the future.

Update: Please see the Addition to the MAA Records page of the Archives Spotlight for a January 2005 update.

Kristy Sorensen served as the archivist at the Archives of American Mathematics until November 2006.

The Archives of American Mathematics (AAM) is a unit of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. Individuals interested in conducting research or donating materials or who have general questions about the AAM should contact Carol Mead, Archivist:, (512) 495-4539.

Revised on July 12, 2010.