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EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Chapter 4 Émigrés, 1933-1941

The Philadelphia Section was established in 1926 to advance the cause of collegiate mathematics in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and all of Delaware. There was no need to define “eastern” or “southern” because no other sections of the MAA 1  covered the states of Pennsylvania or New Jersey at the time. However, as Philadelphia Section founder Albert A. Bennett so presciently predicted in 1926, the formation of a section centered at one of the two poles in the Keystone State would spur the establishment of a section centered at the other. That event transpired when the Allegheny Section was founded in 1933, so beginning that year the MAA 2  divided the state of Pennsylvania into two parts defined by longitude \(77^\circ\) \(30'\)W. This geographical boundary meant that much of central Pennsylvania, including notably Penn State, became aligned with the Pittsburgh axis. Although this arrangement removed from the Philadelphia Section such leading figures as Orrin Frink, Frederick Owens, and Helen Owens, the loss was mitigated by a new wave of energetic, creative leaders.
That is one reason for regarding the year 1933 as a watershed in the section’s history. A second reason is external to our section, even external to the country. And external to mathematics. It was the rise to power of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, whose policies caused hundreds of the world’s finest scientists to emigrate. Five notable mathematicians settled in the Philadelphia area – Emmy Noether, Salomon Bochner, Hilda Geiringer, Hans Rademacher, and Richard Courant. All but Noether participated in our section.
This chapter describes activities in the Philadelphia Section from the first annual meeting held outside Pennsylvania, in 1933, to the one held two weeks before the United States entered World War II in 1941. The chapter introduces a new set of leaders and describes some of their professional activities. Perhaps the most active of them all – J. A. Shohat – is, like Hans Rademacher, accorded a personal profile at the end of the chapter as a tribute to his many contributions. The five new chairs of the section are associated with five different institutions – W. M. Smith (Lafayette), Richard Morris (Rutgers), J. W. Clawson (Ursinus), L. L. Smail (Lehigh), and C. O. Oakley (Haverford). There are also biographical sketches of two members of the Program Committee – C. B. Allendoerfer (Haverford) and H. W. Brinkmann (Swarthmore) – and one invited lecturer, A. G. Rau (Moravian). The chapter ends by analyzing the themes of the invited lectures, with a discussion of those addresses delivered by émigrés complementing an analysis by mathematical category.