University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Abraham Adrian Albert Papers 1921-2004

© 2016 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Albert, Abraham Adrian. Papers




10.5 linear feet (11 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Abraham Adrian Albert (1905-1972) was a mathematician and professor at the University of Chicago from 1931 to 1972, ultimately rising to the position of Dean of Physical Sciences in 1962. Over the course of his career, Albert made important contributions to the study of associative algebras, non-associative algebras, and Riemann matrices. His 1939 Structure of Algebras is regarded a classic, and still published today. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence and ephemera; administrative materials from the University of Chicago and Albert’s professional associations; reprints of published articles, and drafts and copies of several of his books and speeches; awards; photographs; newspaper clippings collected by Albert; and memorial correspondence and scrapbooks. Materials date between 1921 and 2004, with the bulk of the materials dating between 1940 and 1970. The papers primarily document Albert’s career as a professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago and as a public intellectual.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research with the exception of material in Series VII. This series contains letters of recommendation and student materials, and is restricted for 80 years from date of record creation.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Albert, Abraham Adrian. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Abraham Adrian Albert was born on November 9, 1905 to Elias Albert and Fannie (Fradkin) Albert, both of whom were Russian-Jewish immigrants. Adrian was the second of the Albert’s three children, and also had two half-siblings on his mother’s side.

Adrian Albert completed his primary and secondary education in Chicago, with the exception of a brief interlude in Iron Mountain, Michigan between 1914 and 1916, and earned his undergraduate (1926) and master’s degrees (1927) in mathematics from the University of Chicago. He continued his studies under L.E. Dickson – then a leading figure in the fields of number theory and algebra – and earned his Ph.D. in 1928 for his dissertation, Algebras and their Radicals and Division Algebras. After brief post-doctoral stints at Princeton University (1928-29) and Columbia University (1929-31), he returned to the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of mathematics in 1931. He was promoted to full professor in 1941, department chair in 1958, and ultimately Dean of Physical Sciences in 1962.

Albert made important contributions to the fields of associative and non-associative algebras, Rietmann matrices, and on classifying division algebras over the course of his career, publishing widely on these subjects. Beyond his research and duties as professor, he served as associate director of the Applied Mathematics Group at Northwestern University during the Second World War, and later held administrative posts in the Mathematics Section of the National Research Council (Chairman, 1958-61), and the American Mathematical Society (President, 1965-66).

He likewise earned numerous honors and awards. Among others, he was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1943, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 1952, the Argentine Academy of Sciences in 1963, and the International Mathematical Union in 1970. Furthermore, Albert held honorary doctorates from the University of Notre Dame (1965), Yeshiva University (1968), and the University of Illinois at Chicago (1968). By all accounts his most cherished honor was his appointment to Dean at his beloved University of Chicago.

Albert married Frieda Davis on December 8, 1927. The couple had three children – Roy, Alan, and Nancy – and five grand children. By all accounts the Alberts enjoyed a happy family life until the untimely death of Roy at the age of 23 in 1958.

A. Adrian Albert died on June 6, 1972.

Scope Note

The collection is comprised of seven series: Series I: Personal; Series II: Correspondence; Series III: Scholarship and Publications; Series IV: Professional Materials; Series V: Photographs; Series VI: Oversized Materials; Series VII: Restricted Materials. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence and ephemera; administrative materials from the University of Chicago and Albert’s professional associations; reprints of published articles, and drafts and copies of several of his books and speeches; awards; photographs, newspaper clippings collected by Albert; and memorial correspondence and scrapbooks. Materials date between 1921 and 2004, with the bulk of the materials dating between 1940 and 1970. The papers primarily document Albert’s career as a professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago and as a public intellectual.

Series I, Personal, contains school records, bibliographic information, bibliographies, newspaper clippings, and ephemera from social events attended by Albert.

Series II, Correspondence, contains incoming and outgoing mail and ephemera. This series is divided into personal and professional correspondence, and arranged chronologically within type. Letters of condolence within personal correspondence, however, are arranged alphabetically (as received).

Series III, Scholarship and Publications, contains reprints of published material, drafts (typescript or manuscript) of a handful of Albert’s books and articles, proposals, speeches, and copies of his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. The series is arranged by type, and chronologically within type.

Series IV, Professional, contains documents, correspondence, and ephemera related to Albert’s professional activities, and is divided into two subseries:

Subseries 1, Professional Appointments and Associations, includes material related to Albert’s appointment to and participation in various professional organizations, and conferences attended. This subseries is arranged by type, and chronologically within type.

Subseries 2, Awards, includes correspondence and ephemera related to the honorary degrees, and organizational honors Albert earned over his career. This subseries is arranged chronologically.

Series V, Photographs, contains predominately photographs of Albert receiving honorary degrees.

Series VI, Oversized, includes scrapbooks, correspondence, and photographs.

Series VII, Restricted Materials, includes restricted correspondence – principally letters of recommendation written on behalf of students – and student records. This series is arranged alphabetically, and is restricted for 80 years from date of record creation.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Series I: Personal

Box 1   Folder 1

A.A. Albert's college gradebook/class book, University of Chicago, 1921, and Graduate Student Record, University of Chicago, 1928

Box 1   Folder 2

Bibliographies and biographical materials, 1940-1970

Box 1   Folder 3

Social events, 1941-1969

Box 1   Folder 4

Newspapers, 1941-1968

Box 1   Folder 5

Newspaper clippings, 1960-1967

Box 1   Folder 6

Travel information, 1960-1971

Box 1   Folder 7

Memorials, 1972-1981

Series II: Correspondence

Box 1   Folder 8

Personal, 1932-1940

Box 1   Folder 9

Personal, 1941

Box 2   Folder 3

Personal, 1942-1949

Box 2   Folder 4

Personal, 1950-2004

Box 2   Folder 5

Personal, undated

Box 2   Folder 6

Personal – Letters of Condolence, A-F, 1972

Box 2   Folder 7

Personal – Letters of Condolence, G-M, 1972

Box 2   Folder 8

Personal – Letters of Condolence, N-Z, 1972

Box 2   Folder 9

Professional, 1939-1966

Box 3   Folder 1

Professional, 1967-1968

Box 3   Folder 2

Professional, 1969-1970

Box 3   Folder 3

Professional, 1971-1972

Box 3   Folder 4

Professional, Illness, 1972

Series III: Scholarship and Publications

Box 3   Folder 5

Master's thesis and doctoral dissertation, 1927-1928

Box 3   Folder 6

Article – "Some Mathematical Aspects of Cryptography," American Mathematical Society – typescript copy, 1942

Box 3   Folder 7

Textbook – An Introduction to Finite Projective Planes, 1961 – Typescript Chapter Drafts - "The Finite Plans of Ostrom," by A. Albert; "Autotopism Groups of Some Finite Non-Associative Algebra," by A. Albert; "The Collineation Groups of Free Planes," by Reuben Sandler

Box 3   Folder 8

Article - "Mathematics During the Past Decade," National Science Foundation, complete typescript draft and related correspondence, 1965

Box 3   Folder 9

Article - "On Certain Polynomial Systems," typescript draft with notes, 1965

Box 3   Folder 10

Textbook - An Introduction to Finite Projective Planes - Correspondence – relating to publication, 1965-1968

Box 3   Folder 11

Proposal – Review – Rice University, typescript and holograph drafts, 1965

Box 3   Folder 12

Textbook - Solid Analytic Geometry - Correspondence relating to publication,1966

Box 3   Folder 13

Article - "The Support of Mathematics in the National Science Foundation," typescript, undated

Box 4   Folder 1

Article - "The Needs of American Mathematics," typescript, undated

Box 4   Folder 2

Unidentified Textbook – Chapter I: "Rings and Algebras," typescript draft with annotations, and Chapter II: "Power-Associative Rings," holograph draft, undated

Box 4   Folder 3

Article - "On Some Properties of Biabelian Fields," typescript draft with annotations and holograph draft, undated

Box 4   Folder 4

Article – "Paper on Associative Division Algebra," holographic notes, undated

Box 4   Folder 5

Report - "The Next Ten Years of the Division of the Physical Sciences," to University of Chicago, typescript and holograph copies, undated

Box 4   Folder 6

Reprints, 1929-1931

Box 4   Folder 7

Reprints, 1932-1934

Box 4   Folder 8

Reprints, 1935-1943

Box 5   Folder 1

Reprints, 1944-1952

Box 5   Folder 2

Reprints, 1953-1958

Box 5   Folder 3

Reprint – "Leonard Eugene Dickson," and bibliographical material, 1955

Box 5   Folder 4

Reprints, 1959-1965

Box 5   Folder 5

Reprints, 1967-1972

Box 5   Folder 6

Speeches – General

  • "Physical Sciences Research and Goals – Their Demands on Physical Plant Facilities," typescript copy and related correspondence, 1951
  • "Verses by A.A. Albert," computer printout, circa 1959-1960
  • "Address to Ray Grammar School Graduation," type copy with notes, 1963
  • "Federal Support of the Physical Sciences, in Universities," University of Chicago Board of Trustees, typescript copy, 1971
Box 5   Folder 7

Speeches – Conference addresses, 1960-1964

  • "Mathematics as a Profession," Youth Conference on the Atom, typescript copy, 1960
  • "The Modern Computer," Youth Conference on the Atom, typescript copy, 1962
  • "The Curriculum in Mathematics," Science Today and Tomorrow, typescript copy, 1964
Box 5   Folder 8

Speeches – Convocation Addresses, University of Chicago, typescript copy and ephemera, 1963 and 1971

Series IV: Professional

Subseries 1: Professional Appointments and Associations

Box 5   Folder 9

Professorship, University of Chicago, 1930-1970

Box 6   Folder 1

Professional organizations and consultancies – Correspondence - 1931-1970

Box 6   Folder 2

American Mathematical Society, 1934-1970

Box 6   Folder 3

National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, 1949-1972

Box 6   Folder 4

International Exchange of Persons, Diary of Frieda Albert, 1947

Box 6   Folder 5

Brazilian Academy of Sciences, 1953

Box 6   Folder 6

U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1958-1960

Box 6   Folder 7

Distinguished Service Professorship, University of Chicago, 1960

Box 6   Folder 8

Dean of Physical Science Division, University of Chicago, 1961-1962

Box 6   Folder 9

Dept. of Mathematics Advisory Council, Princeton University, 1965-1971

Box 6   Folder 10

Institute of Applied Algebra, University of Iowa, 1966

Box 6   Folder 11

Inter-University Committee, Regional Planning in Computer Usage, 1967

Box 6   Folder 12

Institute for Advanced Study, 1969-1970

Box 7   Folder 1

International Mathematical Union, 1969-1971

Box 7   Folder 2

Special Review Committee, Dept. of Mathematics, Ohio State University,1970-1971

Box 7   Folder 3

Conferences – correspondence and ephemera from various conferences attended, 1938-1971

Box 7   Folder 4

Conferences – Universidad de Puerto Rico, scrapbook, 1968

Box 7   Folder 5

Conferences – "Conference on Non-Associative Algebras," Illinois Institute of Technology, correspondence, grant application to National Science Foundation, 1969-1970

Subseries 2: Awards

Box 7   Folder 6

Fulbright Award, Argentina/Peru/Brazil, 1964-1968

Box 7   Folder 7

Honorary Doctorate, University of Notre Dame, 1965

Box 7   Folder 8

Honorary Doctorate, Yeshiva University, 1968

Box 7   Folder 9

Honorary Doctorate, University of Illinois at Chicago,1968

Series V: Photographs

Box 7   Folder 10

Photographs – Argonne Laboratory, 1961

Box 7   Folder 11

Photographs – Honorary Doctorates – Yeshiva and Notre Dame Universities, 1965-1968

Series VI: Oversized

Box 8   Folder 1

Scrapbook, 1939-1959

Box 8   Folder 2

Scrapbook, 1972

Box 9   Folder 1

Correspondence – Albert-Hasse, 1931-1936

Box 10   Folder 1

Diplomas and Certificates, 1917-1970

Series VII: Restricted Materials

Box 11   Folder 1

Letters of Recommendation, A-B, 1961-1970

Box 11   Folder 2

Letters of Recommendation, C-F, 1963-1971

Box 11   Folder 3

Letters of Recommendation, G-K, 1963-1971

Box 11   Folder 4

Letters of Recommendation, L-O, 1961-1971

Box 11   Folder 5

Letters of Recommendation, P-Z, 1962-1972

Box 11   Folder 6

Letters of Recommendation, Alberto Gonzalez-Dominguez, 1967-1968