University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Max Dehn Papers, 1899-1979

Descriptive Summary

Creator Dehn, Max, 1878-1952
Title Max Dehn Papers
Dates: 1899-1979
Abstract Collection documents the career of Max Dehn (1878-1952), relating chiefly to his research in geometry, topology, group theory, and the history of mathematics.
Accession No. 86-4; 93-476; 2003-093; 2007-072
Extent 2 ft., 2 in.
Languages Collections materials are written in English, French and German.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Max Dehn (1878-1952) was a German mathematician known for his contributions to geometry, topology, group theory, and the history of mathematics. Born in Hamburg, Germany, he studied mathematics in Freiburg and Göttingen, where he earned his doctorate under the supervision of David Hilbert in 1900. In 1901, he solved Hilbert's third problem, posed at the International Congress of Mathematicians. Dehn began his teaching career at the University of Münster in 1901, and, after teaching at several institutions, he landed at Frankfurt University (1921-1935). In 1935, the Nazis forced him to leave his post; he and his wife fled Europe for the United States in 1941. After teaching in several universities, he found a permanent position at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1945. Dehn remained at the college until he retired in 1952.

Scope and Contents

The Max Dehn Papers document the career of Max Dehn (1878-1952) and relate chiefly to his research in geometry, topology, group theory, and the history of mathematics. Most of the papers are from Dehn's years at Frankfurt University and, after his immigration in 1940 to the United States, Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Included are correspondence, notebooks, manuscripts of publications, reprints, lecture and course notes by Dehn, remembrances written by his daughter, colleagues and students, and lecture notes by Ernst Hellinger. Correspondents include Emil Artin, Otto Blumenthal, Harald Bohr, Samson Breuer, Constantin Carathéodory, David Hilbert, Adolf Kneser, Emmy Noether, Moritz Pasch, Otto Toeplitz, and Ernst Zermelo. The majority of the materials are written in German, with some English and French.

Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Dehn, Max, 1878-1952.--Archives
Artin, Emil, 1898-1962
Blumenthal, Otto, b. 1876
Breuer, Samson, 1891-
Carathéodory, Constantin, 1873-1950
Hellinger, Ernst, b. 1883
Hilbert, David, 1862-1943
Kneser, Adolf, 1862-1930
Noether, Emmy, 1882-1935
Pasch, Moritz, 1843-1930
Toeplitz, Otto, 1881-1940
Zermelo, Ernst, 1871-
Group theory
Mathematics historians

Administrative Information

Collection History

This collection was previously housed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC).

Preferred Citation

Max Dehn Papers, 1899-1979, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Serial numbers were assigned to shipments that arrived at the HRC before the collection was transferred to the Briscoe Center in 1984. Although the material has been rearranged, the original serial numbers have been placed in brackets on the folders for the convenience of researchers who are familiar with the original inventory. See original finding aid in holding record for more information.


Note on abbreviations:

ALS = Autograph (handwritten) Letter Signed (in the hand of the author)

TLS = Typed Letter Signed (by the author)

Detailed Description of the Collection



4RM128 Memorial address, delivered by Wolfgang Franz, director of the mathematical seminary in Frankfurt, on Dehn's death, July 16, 1952
Max Dehn in memoriam, by Willy Hartner, in German, July 16, 1952
"Max Dehn zum Gedächtnis, by Wilhelm Magnus and Ruth Moufang, in German, Mathematische Annalen, 1954
On the History of the Frankfurt Mathematics Seminar," address given by Carl Ludwig Siegel, June 13, 1964
Reminiscences about Max Dehn, written by Maria Dehn Peters (daughter), 1972, undated
"Max Dehn," by Wilhelm Magnus, The Mathematical Intelligencer, vol. 1, no. 3, Nov. 13, 1978
"On the History of the Frankfurt Mathematics Seminar," by Carl Ludwig Siegel, The Mathematical Intelligencer, vol. 1, no. 4, 1979
Letters to the Editor - letter about Magnus essay on Dehn, The Mathematical Intelligencer, vol. 1, no. 4, 1979
"Max Dehn and Black Mountain College," by R. B. Sher, in the The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1994
"Professor Dehn," by Joe Engel, 1997
"Max Dehn, Kurt Gödel, and the trans-Siberian escape route," by John W. Dawson, Jr., ca. 2002
"Max Dehn," by John Stillwell, undated
"My Black Mountain," by Mildred Harding, exerpt from Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 151, No. 1, undated
"In the Original: The Third Problem," from The Honors Class, by Benjamin Yandell, undated
Recollections of Ruth Moufang of Dehn's sayings, [photocopy], undated
From the Collected Works of André Weil, copy of page 460-461, about lecture concerning Dehn, undated
"Biographische Notizen," biographical statement on Dehn, undated



4RM128 "Der Goldene Schnitt in Der Natur," from German newspaper, April 5, 1939
[Includes other printed material], various newspaper clippings on Dehn and an announcement of a memorial lecture, 1940, 1952 and undated
Describing Dehn's difficulties with the German government [two clippings], and obituary, all in German, described by Magnus, 1952



4RM128 To Dehn from Ernst Zermelo, [one letter, 8 pp., and one postcard], September 25, 1900 and October 27, 1904
To Dehn from David Hilbert (in German), 1905, 1909, 1931
Documents and letters of academic appointments; letter of thanks, June 12, 1915, for aid to "Nationaler Frauendienst;" documents and letters concerning retirement, move to Norway, and pension; and clipping from Oslo's Tidenstign, May 22, 1931, featuring Dehn and Hegaard, 1905-1941
Letters and documents relating to Dehn's professional life, [mostly photocopies], 1911-1952
Postcard from Detlef Cauer, August 25, 1912
To Dehn from Emmy Noether, regarding a mathematical question raised by Dehn, July 8, 1920
Between Max and Toni Dehn and German publishers Springer-Verlag and Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft regarding Dehn's publications, [1936 "Scientia" paper and 1926 Pasch-Dehn book], 1925-1929, 1971-1978
To Dehn from Moritz Pasch, 3 pp., July 7[?], 1926
Between Dehn and Hellmuth Kneser about Dehn's lemma, 1929
Between Dehn and Kneser, 1929
To Kneser [incomplete] with mathematical notes, September 6, 1929
To Dehn from Leo Frobenius, November 3, 1932
Handwritten copies [by?] of letters of recommendation for Dehn, addressed to Professor Hegaard for a position in Oslo, Norway, written by Jakob Nielsen, E. Cartan, Heinz Hopf, J. H. C. Whitehead, Dvan [?] Dantzig, and Karol Borsok, 1938
To Dehn from Samson Breuer, 2 pp., November 6, 1938
To Dehn from Otto Blumenthal and Otto Toeplitz on Dehn's 60th birthday, 3 pp., November 11, 1938
Photocopies of documents from Idaho State University Special Collections regarding Dehn's move to the U. S. and work as a professor there [formerly University of Idaho, Southern Branch], 1938-1949, 1986, and undated
Postcard to Dehn from Constantin Carathéodory, January 27, 1940
Birthday letters to Dehn on his 70th birthday [November 13, 1948], 1948-1949
Letters and documents, including an invitation to join "Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung im französich besetzten Gebiet Wüttembergs," June 15, 1948; and Dehn's refusal, August 13, 1948, 1948-1949
To Dehn from Harald Bohr, in Danish, December 15, 1949
Dehn to Emil Artin, photocopy of ALS, 2 pp., April 6, 1950
Birthday letters to Toni Dehn on Max Dehn's 100th birthday, 1978-1979
Between Wilhelm Magnus and Toni Dehn regarding Max Dehn's papers, 1979 and undated



4RM128 "Übersicht Über Probleme und Resultate bei Untersuchungen Über Allgemeine Diskontinuierliche Gruppen…," Breslau, 4 pp., mimeographed, December 11, 1920
"Über Kurvensysteme auf Zweiseitigen Flächen mit Anmerkung auf das Abbildungsproblem. Vortrag (ergänzt) im Math. Kolloquium," Breslau, 11.2.1922," 12 mimeograph-type pages, February 11, 1922
"Über Kurvensysteme…," mimeographed, three copies, Breslau, November 2, 1922
Brussels lecture [on group theory?], in French with some notes in German, 1932 and undated
Copenhagen [notes], 1934
Given by Dehn in Pocatello, Idaho, describing his flight from Norway to the USA via Sweden, Moscow, Siberia, and Japan, typed carbon, 8 pp. [described by Magnus], 1941
History of mathematics, third and fifth lectures, two mimeographed pages, 1948-1949
"Notes on History of Calculus with Implications for our Teaching," at annual meeting, Illinois Section, MAA, [was foldered with 1928 Schoenflies Festschrift], May 14, 1948
Preparation for the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th lectures on the history of mathematics, mimeograph with handwritten notes, 5 pp., 1949
"Gruppentheorie," 170 numbered pages in hardbound notebook, [note by Magnus, "lecture notes for a course on group theory, given by Max Dehn, time, place and writer unknown"], includes diagrams, undated
Notes from a course given by Dehn in group theory, author unknown [photocopy], undated



4RM129 "Beweis des Satzes, das Jedes Geradlinige Polygon Ohne Doppelpuntke 'Die Ebne in Zwei Teile Teilt,'" unpublished manuscript, in cardboard folder labeled, "Dehn Beitrage zur Analysis Situs Principien der Geometrie, Göttingen," [ca. 1899]
"Beitrage zur Analysis Situs. Prinzipien der Geometrie," unpublished manuscript, photocopy ca.1899
"Vortrag in Münster [?] '/w. d.6. Juni 1911, Über die Lehre vom Inhalt," loose pages, numbered 1-20, 1911
"Über Topologie und Allgemeine Gruppentheorie, Frankfurt a/M. Vortrag (Bericht) Gehalten auf der Jahresuersammlund d. Deutsche Math. Ver., Leipzig 1922," 1922
Festschrift for Artur Schoenflies, "Artur Schoenflies Zum 70. Geburtstag," includes work by Dehn, P. Epstein, Karl Reinhardt, G. H. Hardy and Otto Szairs, bound, April 17, 1923
Festschrift for Max Dehn, "Dem Freunde Max Dehn zur Beendigung Feines 50. Dozenten-Semesters," handwritten in different hands, bound, includes printed article by Schoenflies and loose sheet by Ernst Hellinger, November 1, 1926
Festschrift for Artur Schoenflies - in paper folder, includes article by Carl Ludwig Siegel with caricature, November 6, 1927, article by Dehn, and 1928 article by Siegel, all handwritten April 17, 1928
[Lecture?] "Probleme des Mathematischen Hochschulunterrichts," Vortrag in Nauheim, typed, September 23, 1932
Two manuscripts by Dehn addressed to Ernst Hellinger on his birthday, originally found with 1923 Schoenflies Festschrift, September 30, 1933 and September 30, 1943
Various incomplete manuscripts and notes, includes outline of "Psychology of Mathematical Activity," letter dated March 24, 1945 from W. Köhler, 1942-1945 and undated
"Determination of the element by the series of KaN is the Development," and "On Hyperabelian Groups," ca. 1949
"Die Stetigen Beziehungen Einer Fläche auf Sich Selbst…," loose sheets numbered 1-15 , with corrections and notes, undated
"Die Veränderung der Mathematischen Methodik Durch die Entdeckung der Nicht-Euklidischen Geometrie," loose sheets numbered 1-24, [with corrections], undated
Untitled, handwritten pages numbered 55-255, on the relationship between mathematics and ornamentation [?], described by Magnus, undated
"Animi sui Complicatum…," typed manuscript and carbon copy, each with annotations, ca. 60 pages total, on the psychology of mathematics, undated
"Festschrift zum [?]] Bestchur des L[?] Seminar," handwritten manuscript and photocopy, undated



4RM130 Loose sheets, one with "Magnus" at top, and notebook, "Einleitung in die Höhere Analysis, Kiel [?] w.s. 1911/12. Heft I," Letters "G R" cut out of back cover, ca. 1911-1912 and undated
Notebook and loose pages, "d. 29.5.14," 1914 and undated
Notecards and drawings, ca. 1914 and undated
"Schnee, Breslau Technische Hochschule, nach 1918," 1914-1918
Notebook, "Variationsrechnng (Fortsetzung)," 1916
Notebook and loose sheets, "Gruppen mit Relationem...," 1921 and undated
"Geometrie I, Frankfurt [?], s. s. 22," "Dehn, Frankfurt 9/17[?], Kettin [?] 105," 8"X5", blue/black cover, [1922?]
"Zahlensysteme S. S. 22," 1922
"Seminar," 1922-1925
"Topologie und Allgemeine Gruppentheorie W. S. 23/24," [no cover, with loose sheets that were taped in the back], 1923-1924
"Geometrie II. Fortz. Geometrie III," ca. 1923-1925
"Höhere Algebra, w.s. 1924/25," 1924-1925
"Mechanik, w.s. 1924-25," and loose sheets, 1924-1925
"Geometrie III. Fortz," [ca. 1925?]
"Differentialgleichungen im Heben [?] Gebiet, w.s. 25/26," 1925-1926
"Variationsrechnung I., s.s. 26," 1925-1926, 1931-1932
"Linear…[?], s.s. 26," 1926
"Gruppentheorie, w.s. 1926-27, s.s. 1931," "Linear groups," and "Group theory," 1926-1935, 1949
4RM131 "Höhere Analysis I., s.s. 1927," and "Höhere Analysis II., w.s. 1927-1928," 1927-1928
Notebook: "Grundlagen (?) der Geometrie," 1928-1929
"Algebra… [?], w.s. 1929-1930," 1929-1930
"Analysis II., 1933" and "Grafische und Analytiche [?] der [?], w.s. 26/27," 1933
"Diffgl. II… w.s. 33/34," 1933-1934
"Zusätze. 1. Diff. Geometrie 34/35," 1934-1935
Notebook: notes for history of mathematics articles, 1943
"Aristotle," probably notes for article in American Mathematical Monthly, 1950
"Durchschreibeblock," in shorthand and English, some mathematics, mostly philosophy, [after 1950]
"x'=l, (x, y)…," undated
Miscellaneous loose sheets, 1934 and undated
Untitled manuscript and mathematical notes, originally found with 1923 Schoenflies Festschrift, undated
"Mapping," folder containing about 100 pages of topological diagrams and notes, [mostly in English], undated
Unidentified mimeographed notes, undated
Envelope labeled "Zettelkatalog zu Psychologie," containing slips of notes, undated



4RM131 Writings by Dehn: 1907-1983
"Berichtigender Zusatz zu III A B 3 Analysis situs," photocopy, 1907
"Über den Rauminhalt," Mathematische Annalen, ca. 1901
"Zwei Anwendungen der Mengenlehre in der elementaren Geometrie," Mathematische Annalen, ca. 1900-1910
Title unknown [ title cut out of page 1], Mathematische Annalen, 1912
"Über die Starrheit knovexer Polyeder," Mathematische Annalen and unidentified publication, 1916
"Über die geistige eigenart des Mathematikers" (reprinted as "The Mentality of the Mathematician. A Characterization") Frankfurter Universitätsreden, XXVIII; The Mathematical Intelligencer 1928, 1983
"Das Mathematische im Menschen," Scientia, Sept. 1932
"Raum, Zeit, Zahl Bei Aristoteles vom Mathematischen Standpunkt Aus," Scientia, July-Aug. 1936, 1975
"Über Kombinatorische Topologie," 1936, 1938
"Certain Mathematical Achievements of James Gregory," with E. D. Hellinger, American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. L, No. 3, March 1943
"Mathematics, 600 B.C. - 400 B.C., American Mathematical Monthly, June-July 1943
The methodology of Pierre Duhem, book review by Dehn, reprint, in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, Nov. 1943
"Mathematics, 300 B.C. - 200 B.C.," American Mathematical Monthly, Jan. 1944
"Mathematics, 300 B.C. - 200 B.C.," American Mathematical Monthly, March 1944
"Sobre Transfomaciones," reprint in Spanish, Gaceta Matemática, 1949
Über Abbildungen geschlossener Flächen auf sich," Særtryk af Matematisk Tidsskrift 1950
"Bogen und Sehnen im Kries, Paare von Grössensystemen," undated
4RM132 Writings by others
"Beweis des Desarguesschen Satzes aus dem Pascalschen," by Hessenberg



4RM203c Photographs, with letter from the Institute of Advanced Study, signed by John Von Neumann, Carl Ludwig Siegel and others, three photos of architectural details of tigers on buildings, one attached to letter, March 28, 1935



4RM132 Drawings - "Geometry for Artists Class, Black Mountain College, Winter & Spring," 1948
Drawings, sketches, undated


Wilhelm Magnus

4RM132 Photocopies of Dehn correspondence and printed material, includes article "The Mathematician's Art of Work," by J. E. Littlewood, 1900-1920, 1932, 1949-1967
Photocopies of material from Dehn Papers, annotated by Magnus, 1920-1949 and undated
Lists of Dehn's books with Magnus correspondence, September 1952 and undated
Correspondence, notes and printed material about Dehn, 1954-1959, 1977-1980 and undated
File on Hellinger, includes correspondence, research material and drafts relating to Magnus' entry on Hellinger in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 1968-1971 and undated
Samples of flourishes which Dehn used to sign his letters, [photocopy, described by Magnus], undated


Ernst Hellinger

4RM132 Lecture notes by Hellinger [with folder], 1922-1928
Four sets of lecture notes, "Beispiele u. Rechnungen m- operatoren, "Seminar Über Unendl. Matrisen [?]" dated 1933, "Liter. U- Operatoren;" "Differesengleichungen," 1929-1938 and undated