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EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Chapter 2 Founding

Chapter 1 described the founding of the first national organization of research mathematicians (the NYMS in 1888, expanded to the AMS 1  six years later) and the first national organization of college mathematics teachers, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA 2 ). That chapter also discussed the genesis of sections within a professional society like the AMS 3  and outlined the establishment of the first 16 sections of the MAA 4 .
The present chapter describes the founding of the MAA 5  section initially called the Philadelphia Section, including a detailed account of the organizational meeting held at Lehigh University in November \(1926\text{.}\) The formation of the section supplies evidence of an emerging community of scholars in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and southern New Jersey, one that boasted sufficiently many members to support and sustain its own MAA 6  section. To provide additional evidence of the emerging community the chapter ends with a brief description of the joint AMS 7 - MAA 8  national meeting held in Philadelphia just one month after the founding of the section.
Who were the leaders of this new section? Where were they employed? What were their interests?
Overall this chapter answers these questions in two ways. First, it describes the efforts of three mathematicians to found the Philadelphia Section in 1926: A. A. Bennett and J. B. Reynolds from Lehigh University and H. H. Mitchell from the University of Pennsylvania. Each founder is profiled at the end of the chapter. Their aim was to foster a spirit of collegial mathematics throughout eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and all of Delaware. No organization can thrive with only three leaders, and our section benefited from a large cadre of volunteers. Biographical sketches of some of them are included, as well as brief portraits of most of the section’s \(14\) charter members. This group formed the critical mass needed to establish and energize the section’s early meetings.