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© 2007 University of Chicago Library

Open for research. No restrictions

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

Mathematics professor Alfred L. Putnam was born in Dunkirk, New York on March 10, 1916. He was educated at Hamilton College (B.S., 1938) and Harvard University (Ph.D., 1942), where he studied under Saunders Mac Lane. After teaching at Yale for a short time, Putnam joined the faculty of University of Chicago as Assistant Professor of Mathematics in 1945, becoming a Professor Emeritus in 1987.

Putnam's work focused on mathematics education research and undergraduate teaching. During the Cold War, Putnam surveyed mathematics education and research in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Interest in this area exploded after the launch of Sputnik, and Putnam's research led to the translation and broader publication of important Soviet research in mathematics.

During Robert Hutchins' term as University president, Putnam served as chair of the College Mathematics Staff. This group designed a mathematics core requirement that influenced mathematics curricula at the college level as well as elementary and secondary schools.

Alfred Putnam died of cancer at his home in Chesterton, Indiana on March 11, 2004.

This collection contains lecture notes collected by Alfred L. Putnam during his work as a mathematician. Most of the notes are in bound, printed form, and others were mimeographed and collected in folders; some contain additional annotations or have sheets of handwritten notes inserted. The notes are arranged alphabetically by lecturer; where an editor, translator, or other contributor is known, the name is noted, as is information given about the date and location of the lecture

Represented here are many of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, including Abraham Adrian Albert, Emil Artin, Garrett Birkhoff, Richard Brauer, Henri Cartan, David Hilbert, Nathan Jacobson, Carl L. Siegel, and Hermann Weyl. In addition to the lecture notes, a copy of mathematician Harley Flanders's doctoral dissertation is also included.

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