A Guide to the Cécile DeWitt-Morette Papers, 1946, 1983-2007
Cécile DeWitt-Morette is a physicist, known for her work in general relativity, mathematical physics, and Feynman path integrals. Born in France, she received her BS from the University of Caen (1943) and PhD from the University of Paris (1947). Realizing that physics in France had been devastated by WWII, she travelled to England, Ireland, Denmark, and the United States to continue her education and begin her career. While at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, from 1948-1950, she met Bryce DeWitt, whom she married in 1949.
Aiming to stimulate the study of physics in France, in 1951 DeWitt-Morette was the driving force behind the creation of l’École d’été de Physique Théoretique (the Summer School of Theoretical Physics), an annual summer program in the village of Les Houches, in the French Alps. The school proved to be a success, and DeWitt-Morette continued to supervise the program until 1972.
After several years as a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley in the early 1950s, DeWitt-Morette moved with her husband to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1956. She and her husband both began as visiting research professors, but although he was eventually promoted to full professor, DeWitt-Morette was demoted to the position of lecturer in 1967 due to nepotism concerns in the department. In 1971, the couple moved to the University of Texas at Austin to accept tenured positions.
Together, the DeWitts led an important expedition to Mauritania in 1972 to test Einstein’s general relativity theory of gravity during a total solar eclipse. DeWitt-Morette published and edited widely and co-authored two books, Analysis, Manifolds, and Physics (1977 and revisions, with Y. Choquet-Bruhat and M. Dillard) and Functional Integration, Action and Symmetries (2006, with P. Cartier).
DeWitt-Morette’s awards include the Prix du Rayonnement Français (1992), the Marcel Grossman Award (with Bryce DeWitt, 2000), election to the European Academy of Sciences (2002), honorary member of the Société Française de Physique (2002), and the rank of Officer in the French Legion of Honor (2011).
DeWitt, Bryce. “Cécile DeWitt-Morette (1922-).” In Out of the Shadows: Contributions of Twentieth-Century Women to Physics, edited by Nina Byers and Gary Williams, 324-333. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Vertical File, “DeWitt-Morette, Cecile M.,” Briscoe Center for American History.
The Cécile DeWitt-Morette Papers (1946, 1983-2007) document her work as a mathematical physicist. Materials include notes, computations, published material, draft pages, and correspondence.
The Professional series (1983-2007) consists of two subseries, Functional Integration and Miscellaneous. The Functional Integration subseries (1983-2001) consists of DeWitt-Morette’s research files for the book on functional integration she co-authored with Pierre Cartier. Included are articles and references dealing with related materials, computations by DeWitt-Morette and her students, and preliminary draft pages of sections of the book. The Miscellaneous subseries (2006-2007) includes emails, computations, and other material. Many of the emails relate to the memoirs of Bryce DeWitt that DeWitt-Morette edited after his death.
The Personal series (1946) consists of one item: the ordre de mission authorizing DeWitt-Morette’s travel to Ireland and the United Kingdom, issued by the French National Education Ministry.
Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.
This collection is open for research.
Cécile DeWitt-Morette Papers, 1946, 1983-2007, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Elliot Williams, October 2012.
Detailed Description of the Papers