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Mathematical Treasure: History of Mathematics for a School

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

In 1768 Joseph Fenn (d. 1783), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nantes, devised the mathematics curriculum for a new school, “A Drawing School,” in Dublin, Ireland. A published version of the plan was presented before the Dublin Society, the sponsor of the school. The first section of the second volume of this plan bore the title (shown above), History of Mathematics, with thirty pages of the work considereing this subject. The remainder of the treatise was devoted to the teaching of mathematics. It is quite interesting that, at this time, a work on mathematics should be prefaced by a history of the subject.

An example of Fenn’s discussion of the history of mathematics, which, in its content, appears to be more rhetorical than factual.

Additional images from the entire second volume may be viewed in Convergence here.

The images above are provided courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: History of Mathematics for a School," Convergence (August 2015)