A Guide to the Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers, 1930-2008
Dorothy Lewis Bernstein (1914-1988) was an American mathematician and president of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA). Her professional interests included analysis, probability and statistics, and the use of computers for mathematics education.
Bernstein was born in Chicago, and attended college at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, from which she graduated with simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics in 1934. She received her PhD from Brown University in 1939, with a dissertation entitled “The Double Laplace Transform.” Later in her life, Bernstein would describe facing prejudice at Brown, as a Jewish woman from the Midwest. Her first teaching job was at Mount Holyoke College (1937-1940). She next taught at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (1941-1942) and served as a research associate at the University of California, Berkeley (1942-1943), before becoming a professor at the University of Rochester (1943-1957). She also spent a year at the Institute for Advanced Study while on sabbatical in 1950-1951. In 1959, she began teaching at Goucher College, a women’s college in Maryland, where she would remain until her retirement in 1979. While at Goucher, she served as chair of the Mathematics Department (1960-1970, 1974-1979) and directed the campus Computer Center (1961-1966). Through Bernstein’s efforts, Goucher received an NSF grant to purchase a computer in 1961, becoming the first women’s college in the country to own one. After her retirement from Goucher in 1979, Bernstein was appointed a visiting professor of applied mathematics at Brown University (1979-1985).
Bernstein was active in the MAA at many levels, serving as an officer in the Maryland-DC-Virginia Section and on the national Board of Governors. She was MAA's first vice-president in 1972-1973 and was elected as president for 1979-1980, becoming the first woman to hold that office. She was also involved with organizations dedicated to the use of computers in education, working with the Center for Research in College Instruction for Science and Mathematics, and helping found the Maryland Association for Educational Use of Computers.
After retiring from Goucher, Bernstein moved to Connecticut, where she lived with Geraldine Coon, her companion, long-time mathematical collaborator, and colleague at Goucher.
“Dorothy Lewis Bernstein, 1979-1980 MAA President,” Mathematical Association of America, http://www.maa.org/history/presidents/bernstein.html.
“Dorothy Lewis Bernstein,” Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Agnes Scott College, http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/bern.htm.
The Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers document Bernstein’s professional and personal life, including her roles as a mathematician, professor, and officer in mathematical organizations. The collection is divided into two series: Professional and Personal.
The Professional series comprises five sub-series: Organizations, Publications and Lectures, Faculty Activities, Conferences, and Reviewer. The Organizations sub-series depicts Bernstein’s involvement in the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), Center for Research in College Instruction for Science and Mathematics (CRICISAM), and Maryland Association for Educational Use of Computers, Inc. (MAEUC). The MAA material is primarily drawn from her term as president and past-president of the organization. The CRICISAM material relates to her work on the advisory council for the Computer-Oriented Differential Equations Project. The Publications and Lectures sub-series consists of copies of Bernstein’s published work and talks given at mathematical conferences and MAA meetings, including both drafts and finished copies. The Faculty Activities sub-series depicts Bernstein’s life as professor and instructor at various institutions and contains correspondence, reports, and administrative material. The Conferences sub-series documents Bernstein’s attendance at mathematical meetings. Finally, the Reviewer sub-series includes material relating to Bernstein’s role as a reviewer of journal manuscripts, grant proposals, and university mathematics departments.
The Personal series contains six sub-series: Education, Vitae, Correspondence, Honors and Awards, Biographical, and Photos. The Education sub-series consists of records from Bernstein’s undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Brown University. It mostly contains correspondence, administrative material, and copies of her master’s and PhD theses. The Vitae sub-series comprises several folders of material Bernstein collected to aid her in composing her curricula vitae. In addition to drafts of her vitae, this sub-series contains other documentation of her activities, including correspondence, clippings, photos, faculty reports, and other material. The Correspondence sub-series primarily covers the later period of Bernstein’s life, although also included is a 1941 letter from John von Neumann. The Honors and Awards sub-series documents Bernstein’s awards from her graduate education and after her retirement. The Biographical sub-series contains articles about Bernstein’s life written by others, many of which focus on her career as an early female mathematician. Finally, the Photographs subseries includes one photo of Bernstein and MAA President Gail Young, taken at an MAA meeting in 1972.
In addition to the materials created and collected by Dorothy Bernstein, this collection also contains some records created by Geraldine Coon, who served as the executor of Bernstein’s estate following her death. These records are interfiled in the appropriate series.
Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.
This collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers, 1930-2008, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Elliot Williams, June 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers