A Guide to the Geraldine A. Coon Papers, 1935-1996
Geraldine “Jerry” Alma Coon was an American applied mathematician and professor. After beginning her career as a research mathematician, she became a university professor, where she specialized in applied mathematics and computer science.
Coon was born in 1913, in North Stonington, Connecticut. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Connecticut College for Women in 1935 and a master’s degree in mathematics from Brown University in 1937. She worked as an instructor in shop mechanics for high school graduates at the Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury, Connecticut, from 1939 to 1944. She then moved to Taylor Instrument Companies in Rochester, New York, where she was a research mathematician from 1944 to 1958. While working at Taylor Instrument, Coon received a PhD in mathematics from the University of Rochester in 1950. Her dissertation, entitled “The Double Laplace Transform and Its Application to Partial Differential Equations,” was overseen by Dorothy L. Bernstein.
After being laid off by Taylor Instrument Companies in 1958, Coon moved full-time to academia. She taught at the University of Connecticut from 1958 to 1964, during which time she spent a year at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (1959-1960). In 1964, Coon moved to Goucher College, a women’s college in Maryland, where she remained until 1980. At Goucher, Coon was heavily involved in establishing computer science in the mathematics department and received several National Science Foundation grants to support both her own research and the acquisition of computer equipment by the college. She was also active in the Maryland-DC-Virginia Section of the Mathematical Association of America, serving as section chair from 1972 to 1975. Coon retired from Goucher in 1980, although she returned to teaching for one semester at Connecticut College in 1981.
After retiring, Coon moved to Connecticut with Dorothy Bernstein, her long-time companion, mathematical collaborator, and Goucher colleague. Coon passed away in 2008.
The Geraldine A. Coon Papers document Coon’s work as a mathematician in industrial and academic settings. The records include correspondence, drafts of lectures and published works, computer programs and outputs, and other materials. The collection is arranged into two series, Professional and Personal, both of which are further divided into sub-series.
The Professional series is comprised of five sub-series: Publications, Research, Correspondence, Lectures, and Faculty Activities. The Publications sub-series includes copies of Coon’s published work, both drafts and published versions. Several publications are included from her work at Taylor Instrument Companies. This sub-series also contains a large amount of material from a planned textbook entitled The Mathematical Basis of Numerical Analysis, which does not appear to have been published, including two nearly complete drafts and multiple drafts of various chapters. The Research sub-series depicts Coon’s research interests, with documents from her work at Taylor Instrument and Goucher College. The Correspondence sub-series primarily pertains to Coon’s efforts to find employment and contains details about her various positions. The Lectures sub-series includes copies of talks given by Coon, many of which pertain to the use of computers in undergraduate mathematics education. The Faculty Activities sub-series documents Coon’s activities as a professor at Goucher College, including materials regarding her teaching of computer science courses and her work administering a grant to purchase new computer equipment.
The Personal series is made up of three sub-series: Education, Vitae, and Correspondence. The Education sub-series contains materials from Coon’s graduate education, including her work at Brown University and the University of Rochester. Correspondence, transcripts, and copies of her thesis and dissertation are included. The Vitae sub-series includes copies of Coon’s curricula vitae and material she collected to document her professional activities. Lastly, the Correspondence sub-series contains some pieces of personal correspondence, including letters from Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaigns in the 1950s and a letter from Goucher College following her retirement.
Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.
The majority of these papers is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Geraldine A. Coon Papers, 1935-1996, 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