A Guide to the Marion Walter Photograph Collection, 1952-1980s, undated
Marion Walter (1928-) was born in Berlin, Germany. She completed her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Hunter College (1950), her M.S. in Mathematics from New York University (NYU) (1954), and received her Ed.D in Mathematics Education in 1967 at Harvard University. Much of her work in teaching and publishing and curriculum development involved an informal approach to geometry, links between mathematics and the visual arts, and problem posing.
In 1939, Walter left Germany for England with her sister on the Kindertransport; her parents followed five months later. After passing the school certificate exam in 1944, she stayed at the school to teach math. After the war ended, she completed two years of college at Regent Street Polytechnic, London.
In 1948, Walter moved to New York with her sister and mother and completed her B.A. at Hunter College in 1950. She taught mathematics at Hunter College High School and then George Washington High School in New York while continuing her studies through evening courses at NYU. In 1952, she became a research assistant at NYU’s Institute of Math and Mechanics (the future Courant Institute), where she worked until she received her M.S. degree in 1954.
In 1952 and 1953, she was awarded a National Bureau of Standards Summer Student Scholarship to study at the Institute of Numerical Analysis at UCLA. After completing her master's degree, Walter accepted a teaching fellowship at Cornell (1954-1956), followed by teaching for nine years at Simmons College where, at the end of her first year, she was asked to set up the math major program. In 1960, she was awarded an NSF summer fellowship for teachers at Stanford, where George Pólya was one of her teachers. Walter started her studies toward an Ed.D. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in 1962, during her sabbatical year from Simmons. Walter resigned from Simmons in 1965 to pursue her studies at the HGSE, where she served as a teaching fellow, an instructor and, after obtaining her Ed.D. in 1967, as an assistant professor until 1972.
Walter also taught at the Institute of Education in Halifax, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. Between September 1973 and June 1977, she held several appointments as research associate at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston.
Walter started teaching at the University of Oregon in Eugene in 1977 and retired from full-time teaching in 1993.
Walter’s other professional activities include the founding, in 1967, of the Boston Area Math Specialists (BAMS), which is still active.
She worked as a curriculum developer at the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts, for several summers in the early 1960s and from 1965-1967.
Walter has published many articles and several books for teachers and children, including The Art of Problem Posing (third edition 2005), which she co-authored with her Harvard colleague, Stephen Brown. She has given numerous lectures and workshops in the United States, England, Denmark, and Israel. Walter was a consultant and contributed material to a variety of projects.
She received Honorable Mention for her children’s books in the Annual New York Academy of Science Book Awards in 1973 and 1986. In 2003, she was elected to the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Mathematics Educators. In 2010, Walter was awarded an honorary degree by Simmons College.
The Marion Walter Photograph Collection consists of Walter’s 35 mm negatives, photographic prints, and 35 mm transparencies related to university activities, fellowships, and professional activities, primarily between 1952 and 1953, but also from the 1960s to the 1980s.
The collection documents educational and professional events and such organizations as UCLA’s Institute of Numerical Analysis, the International Conference on Math Education, New York University, National Science Foundation summer fellowship, Exeter International Conference on Math Education, The Cambridge School Conference, and the Elementary Science Study of Education Development Center.
Many of the people in Walter’s photos are prominent mathematicians, including A. A. Albert , H.S.M. Coxeter, Paul Erdös, Fritz John, D. H. Lehmer, Alexander Ostrowski, George Pólya, Mina Rees, Olga Taussky-Todd, and John Todd, among others.
This collection is open for research.
Marion Walter Photograph Collection, 1952-1980s, undated, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Helen Kim, November 2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers