David Eugene Smith's obituaries and biographies

We have split D E Smith's papers (somewhat arbitrarily) into a number of headings, and here we present a few of his obituaries/biographies papers with a couple of sentences from each paper to indicate the flavour of the paper. Other historical papers by Smith are on the page Smith's history papers and still others are on the Smith's autograph papers' page.


  1. Biography: Emile-Michel-Hyacinthe Lemoine.
    Amer. Math. Monthly 3 (2) (1896), 29-33.

    So extensive has become the modern geometry of the triangle that one scarcely realizes that it has almost entirely developed within the last quarter of a century, and that most of its discoverers are still among the living. Lemoine, Brocard, Neuberg, Tucker, and W J C Miller whose mathematical work in the Educational Times has done so much for the subject, - these and many others have lived to see their labours crowned with honour by lovers of geometry. To none of these more than to Emile-Michel-Hvacinthe Lemoine is due the honour of having started this movement ...

  2. (with Vera Sanford) A Great Mathematician as a School Boy.
    The Mathematics Teacher 14 (7) (1921), 362-366.

    It is the purpose of this note to ask one of the great mathematicians of the world to speak for himself, and to give to American teachers a passing glimpse of his own boyhood. The mathematician is Adrien Marie Legendre, - great in the theory of numbers (including the principle of least squares), in the field of elliptic functions, and in the applications of the calculus; a prolific writer upon a variety of minor mathematical subjects, and the one who, with better right than any other man, save Euclid, can be called the father of American geometry as taught in our schools today. It was the textbook which he wrote for the purpose of making geometry more intelligible to the youth of Prance that, through a translation made two or three generations ago, set the standard that is still maintained in the American schools.

  3. New Information Respecting Robert Recorde.
    Amer. Math. Monthly 28 (8/9) (1921), 296-300.

    Our knowledge of Robert Recorde, -- the first mathematician of any note to publish works in the English language, is very meagre. In general, recent writers have trusted to the books which he wrote and to various biographical notes that have appeared,-the former affording evidence of undoubted value, but the latter being little more than tradition. ... A number of years ago the Reverend Done Bushell, rector at the Harrow School, purchased at a sale in Harrow a small portrait on an oak panel about 12 inches by 14 inches in size. The painting is apparently the work of a sixteenth century artist and is much dimmed by age. In the upper left-hand corner there is the inscription: "Rob. Record. M.D. 1556." although this is so dim from age as not to show in the photographic reproduction given in the frontispiece. As to the authenticity of the painting there can be no question.

  4. The Early Contributions of Carl Schoy.
    Amer. Math. Monthly 33 (1) (1926), 28-31.

    The recent appointment of Dr Carl Schoy as "Lehrauftrag fur Geschichte der exacten Naturwissenschaften im Orient" in the University of Frankfort am Main, the work beginning on October first of the current academic year, is so significant in the study of the history of mathematics as to deserve more than a mere passing notice. The number of scholars who are proficient not only in mathematics and astronomy but also in the eastern languages has always been limited, even as it is today.

  5. (with Frances Marguerite Clarke) New Light on Robert Recorde.
    Isis 8 (1) (1926), 50-70.

    Considering his importance as the founder of the British school of mathematicians, as the first noteworthy English writer on the Copernican theory, and as a worthy contributor to the medical literature of his time, the amount of information possessed with respect to Robert Recorde has been comparatively slight. On this account the careful study made by Miss Clarke and the material which she has brought together should prove not only of interest to all who have investigated the history of science in general, but of value to those who are concerned with the lives of the British scientists of the sixteenth century. While in a sense there is no new light thrown upon the life of Recorde, the evidence adduced having long been in existence in one place or another, the material has not heretofore been brought together, and so it may be said that Miss Clarke has made a genuine contribution to the biography of a scientist of considerable ability, a promoter of scientific inquiry, and a man of interesting personality.

  6. George Rusby Kaye: 1866-1929.
    Science, New Series 70 (1815) (1929), 347.

    Mr Kaye aroused a great deal of opposition on the part of Hindu mathematicians because of his conclusions that the early writers were dependent solely upon Greeks and showed little originality except framing fancifully worded problems. In fact, he clearly belonged to that school which asserts that pure mathematics never flourished in the Far East except as it adapted the theories of the West. Nevertheless, India is indebted to him for this very opposition, for it encouraged her scholars to study sources more thoroughly than before and to seek to base their claims upon more substantial foundations than mere tradition.

  7. Florian Cajori.
    Science, New Series 72 (1864) (1930), 287-288.

    During [the years 1884-1918, Florian Cajori] paid particular attention to the history of the subjects of his major interest, and in recognition of his work in this field he was called to the University of California in 1918 as professor of the history of mathematics, a unique title either in this country or abroad. This position enabled him to devote his time largely to research and writing, and the result amply justified the action of the university in creating the position, and his own decision in accepting it.

  8. Florian Cajori: February 28, 1859-August 14, 1930.
    The Monist 40 (4) (1930), 637-639.

    In the death of Professor Florian Cajori the world has lost one of the best-known of its recent historians of science, not merely in the domain of mathematics but in the contiguous domains of physics, geodesy, and to a certain extent astronomy.

  9. Norifumi Okamoto.
    Science, New Series 73 (1896) (1931), 468-469.

    On February 17, 1931, Japan lost one of the foremost scholars in the field of the history of her native mathematics, Mr Norifumi Okamoto. In the oriental countries it is not enough that such a man should be well versed in mathematics as a science; for this he may be without the ability to read with any ease the works of the classical writers of his own language. This is due to the fact that modern mathematics makes use of terms and methods unknown to ancient writers, whereas the terminology used by the latter is like medieval Latin words to a modern student of analysis. In the person of Mr Okamoto both necessary elements for the interpretation of the classics were combined ...

  10. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) 1832-1898.
    The Mathematics Teacher 25 (1) (1932), 38-43.

    The story goes that Queen Victoria being delighted with 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', sent to her bookseller for other works by the same author -- but when they arrived she was astonished to find them abstruse volumes on determinants and Euclid with the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on the title page. It is fitting, on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Lewis Carroll, to call to mind bits of his nonsense that show his mathematical interest and to rehearse certain events of his rather uneventful life.

  11. Lazare Nicholas Marguerite Carnot.
    The Scientific Monthly 37 (2) (1933), 188-189.

    One hundred and ten years ago this month, on August 2, 1823, there died in exile in Magdeburg one of the most remarkable men of one of the most remarkable centuries in the history of France - Carnot, "l'Organizateur de la Victoire." Soldier, administrator, mathematician, physicist, new master in the construction of fortifications, the patriot who dared oppose the ambitions of Napoleon and who, when France called him, returned to the imperial standard in the fatal Hundred Days - this is the man to whom Bonaparte addressed these words after the defeat at Waterloo, "Carnot, je vous ai connu trop tard!"

  12. Baeda Venerabilis (672-735).
    The Scientific Monthly 41 (3) (1935), 278-280.

    Since the current year marks the twelve-hundredth anniversary of the death of Baeda (Bede), it is fitting to recall in a scientific journal his contributions to science, even though they were of minor importance when compared with the "Ecclesiastical History," which he completed in 731. In this field he wrote upon physical sciences ("De Natura Rerum,") his material being chiefly gathered from such writers as Isidore of Seville who, in turn, had depended largely upon various earlier Latin writers. This is seen in his treatment of such subjects as the rainbow, volcanoes, thunder and the salt in the seas. He also ventured upon the vexed question of the church calendar ("De Temporum Ratione"), chronology, finger reckoning ("Tractatus de computo, vel loquela per gestum digitorum"), fractions ("De ratione unciarurn") and the difficult subject of computation in the age of Roman numerals and of calculation by counters. It was he who introduced into England the measuring of time from the birth of Christ, attributing, it to Dionysius, who had announced his system in Rome beginning with March 25, 527, although it appeared in papal documents somewhat earlier.

  13. Sir Thomas Little Heath.
    Osiris 2 (1936), iv-xxvii.

    One who would aspire to marked success in any branch of the history of mathematics must be possessed of certain abilities rarely combined in a single individual. He must know much more of mathematics than what he proposes to include in his study - the offshoots from these branches and their relation to the science as it has developed since the period of their inception. He must possess a working knowledge of the classical and the principal modern languages, the former for his source material and the latter for the interpretation of this material by later writers. He must be able to express himself with precision and with a degree of elegance that will command the respect and the attention of those who will probably read his works. He must be erudite but not bookish, philosophic but not pedantic, profound but not dull. With all these requisites Sir Thomas Little Heath was early endowed, and richly so.

  14. Mary Hegeler Carus, 1861-1936.
    Amer. Math. Monthly 44 (5) (1937), 280-283.

    In a small two-story house in La Salle, Illinois, on January 10, 1861, there was born a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Edward C Hegeler. It was an event in the village, a greater event in the household but, as it turned out, a far greater one in the country at large. ... Mary Hegeler attended school at La Salle ... entered the University of Michigan where she devoted her attention chiefly to mathematics and chemistry, graduating with the class of 1882. She then went over to her father's old home at Freiberg, attending lectures on metallurgy in the Mining Academy, and working in the laboratory of her uncle, the famous chemist Clemens Winkler ... Upon her return from Germany she again entered the plant of her father, who soon found himself depending upon her judgment and her ability. Meanwhile Mr Hegeler had made the acquaintance of a young German scholar, Dr Paul Carus, and had engaged him to tutor his children and to do some translating and writing for the Open Court, a magazine founded by the former early in 1887. Such was the ability shown by Dr Carus that in December he took over the editorship of the magazine. In the following year he and Mary Hegeler were married, and now began the relation of Mrs Carus to the notable work initiated by the founding of the Open Court and the Monist, and by the publication of the Carus Mathematical Monographs under the auspices of the Mathematical Association of America.


Return to the Overview of D E Smith's publications

JOC/EFR April 2015

The URL of this page is:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/SmithObituariesBiographies.html