The **Mathematical Association of America** was set up to manage publication of the American Mathematical Monthly which had begun publication in 1894. The Monthly was the brainchild of Benjamin Finkel who was a schoolteacher at the Kidder Institute in Missouri. Finkel set out his reasons in the first issue of the Monthly:-

Most of our existing journals deal almost exclusively with subjects beyond the reach of the average student or teacher of mathematics or at least with subjects with which they are familiar, and little, if any, space, is devoted to the solution of problems É No pains will be spared on the part of the Editors to make this the most interesting and most popular journal published in America.

As this quote shows, Finkel wanted to publish a journal which would appeal to school teachers. He did not succeed in this aim, for few teachers read the early issues of the American Mathematical Monthly. He did, however, produce a publication which was greatly enjoyed by university teachers of mathematics.

Support from universities was going to be crucial to the success of the venture and Finkel had made sure that from the very beginning he had the support of leading university teachers such as Eliakim Moore. Herbert E Slaught who edited the Monthly from 1913 to 1916 approached the American Mathematical Society asking if it would take over support for the Monthly. The Council of the American Mathematical Society rejected the request at a meeting in April 1915. However they essentially proposed the creation of the Mathematical Association of America in their response:-

It is deemed unwise for the American Mathematical Society to enter into the activities of the special field now covered by the American Mathematical Monthly; but the Council desires to express its realization of the importance of the work in this field and its value to mathematical science, and to say that should an organization be formed to deal specifically with this work, the Society would entertain toward such an organization only feelings of hearty good will and encouragement.

H E Slaught reacted quickly, sending out a large number of requests for a response from anyone interested in forming a new Society to support publication of the Monthly. He received 450 positive responses, and on 30-31 December 1915 Earl R Hedrick chaired a founding meeting of 104 people. Hedrick was elected president, Huntington was elected vice president, and Council consisting of 12 members was appointed.

The task of choosing a name for the new society proved remarkably uncontroversial. Three committees were set up to each make recommendation and each proposed the name Mathematical Association of America. Straley writes in [1]:-

In those early days the structure of the Mathematical Association of America was more of a club. Its main function was the publication of the Monthly. There was one standing committee, the Committee on Sections. It is still the only committee mandated by our bylaws. The Mathematical Association of America has grown considerably in a little less than one hundred years to a complex organization. ...Today, Benjamin Finkel's dream has substantially come true, the American Mathematical Monthly is the most widely read mathematics journal in the world.

**Mathematical Association of America Presidents**

1916 Earl R Hedrick

1917 Florian Cajori

1918 Edward V Huntington

1919 Herbert E Slaught

1920 David E Smith

1921 George A Miller

1922 Raymond C Archibald

1923 Robert D Carmichael

1924 Harold L Reitz

1925 Julian L Coolidge

1926 Dunham Jackson

1927-28 Walter B Ford

1929-30 John W Young

1931-32 Eric T Bell

1933-34 Arnold Dresden

1935-36 David R Curtiss

1937-38 Aubrey J Kempner

1939-40 William B Carver

1941-42 Raymond W Brink

1943-44 William D Cairns

1945-46 Cyrus C MacDuffee

1947-48 Lester R Ford

1949-50 Rudolph E Langer

1951-52 Saunders Mac Lane

1953-54 Edward J McShane

1955-56 William L Duren, Jr

1957-58 G Bailey Price

1959-60 Carl B Allendoerfer

1961-62 Albert W Tucker

1963-64 R H Bing

1965-66 Raymond L Wilder

1967-68 Edwin E Moise

1969-70 Gail S Young

1971-72 Victor Klee

1973-74 Ralph P Boas

1975-76 Henry O Pollak

1977-78 Henry L Alder

1979-80 Dorothy L Bernstein

1981-82 Richard D Anderson

1983-84 Ivan Niven

1985-86 Lynn A Steen

1987-88 Leonard Gillman

1989-90 Lida K Barrett

1991-92 Deborah Tepper Haimo

1993-94 Donald L Kreider

1995-96 Kenneth A Ross

1997-98 Gerald L Alexanderson

1999-00 Thomas F Banchof

2001-02 Ann E Watkins

2003-04 Ronald L Graham

A Reference (One book/article)
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Other Web sites | Association Web-site |

JOC/EFR August 2004 |
School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland | |

The URL of this page is: http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Societies/MAA.html |