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Refugee mathematicians in the United States of America, 1933–1941: Reception and reaction

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The coming of mathematicians to the United States fleeing the spread of Nazism presented a serious problem to the American mathematical community. The persistence of the Depression had endangered the promising growth of mathematics in the United States. Leading mathematicians were concerned about the career prospects of their students. They (and others) feared that placing large numbers of refugees would exacerbate already present nationalistic and anti-Semitic sentiments. The paper surveys a sequence of events in which the leading mathematicians reacted to the foreign-born and to the spread of Nazism, culminating in the decisions by the American Mathematical Society to found the journal Mathematical reviews and to form a War Preparedness Committee in September 1939. The most obvious consequence of the migration was an enlarged role for applied mathematics.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The Papers of Joseph Henry, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 20560, U.S.A.

Publication date: May 1, 1981

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