University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers, 1930-2008

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bernstein, Dorothy Lewis, 1914-
Title: Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers
Dates: 1930-2008
Abstract: The Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers document Bernstein’s professional and personal life, including her roles as a mathematician, professor, and officer in mathematical organizations.
Accession No.: 2013-106; 2015-153
Extent: 2 ft., 10 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

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,

“Dorothy Lewis Bernstein,” Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Agnes Scott College,

Scope and Contents

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 Professional correspondence sub-series chronicles Bernstein’s communication with various universities over matters of appointments, publications, and possible teaching positions. The Grants sub-series contains proposals written or reviewed by Bernstein for research, course improvement, and technology improvements. The Conferences sub-series documents Bernstein’s attendance at mathematical meetings. The Reviewer sub-series includes material relating to Bernstein’s role as a reviewer of journal manuscripts, grant proposals, and university mathematics departments.Finally, the Notes sub-series holds Bernstein’s subject notes and calculations, including those pertaining to her earliest, and later abandoned, thesis notions.

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.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions

This collection is stored remotely at Southpark. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Bernstein, Dorothy Lewis, 1914-
Coon, Geraldine
Subjects (Organizations)
Brown University. Mathematics Department.
Center for Research in College Instruction of Science and Mathematics
Goucher College. Mathematics Department.
Maryland Association for Educational Use of Computers
Mathematical Association of America
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mathematics Department
Integral transforms.
Mathematics--Computer-assisted instruction.
Mathematics--Study and teaching.
Women in mathematics
Baltimore County (Md.)
Rhode Island.

Related Material

Records from Bernstein's term as President of the MAA are housed in the Mathematical Association of America Records, Series II: Officers, held at this repository

See also the Coon (Geraldine) Papers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Dorothy L. Bernstein Papers, 1930-2008, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Elliot Williams, June 2013.

Detailed Description of the Papers



2013-106/1 Organizations:
Mathematical Association of America
Correspondence and talks given as president, 1979-1981
President's reports to the Board of Governors, 1979-1980
National Medal of Science presentation, 1979-1980
Retiring presidential address, 1982
Board of Governors lists, 1983-1987
Certificate of Meritorious Service, 1984-1985
Center for Research in College Instruction for Science and Mathematics
Consultants, 1970-1971
Correspondence and proposals, 1970-1971
Washington meeting, 1970
Correspondence and minutes, December 1970 - March 1971
Minutes, notes, and correspondence, December 1970 - June 1971
Correspondence with Peter Lax and Warren Stenberg, 1971
Maryland Association for the Educational Uses of the Computer, Inc. (MAEUC), 1970-1980
2015-153/1 Newsletters, symposia programs, minutes, 1972-1978
2013-106/3 Institute for Advanced Study, 1950-1952
Publications and Lectures:
"The Double Laplace Integral"
Handwritten draft, 1938
Manuscript and galley, undated
Draft and publication correspondence, 1941
Reprint requests, 1941-1952
2013-106/1 Reprint, 1941
2013-106/3 “The Riemann-Stieltjes Integral”
Manuscript, 1942
Notes and calculations, undated
University of Rochester talks, 1944-1959
2013-106/1 Existence Theorems in Partial Differential Equations, 1950
2013-106/3 Publication correspondence, 1950
Review, 1951
“Some Properties of the Double Laplace Transformation,” written with Geraldine Coon
Coon's dissertation:
Peliminary notes C and B, undated
Draft, undated
Calculations and draft, undated
Handwritten manuscript, undated
Typed, commented copies, undated
Calculations and draft, undated
Draft copies, undated
Ray section work, 1953
Corrected proofs, 1952-1953
Manuscript and galley, 1953
“Functions of Subdivisions and their Use in Advanced Undergraduate Mathematics,” MAA talk 1952
2013-106/1 Bernstein and Coon, "On the Zeros of a Class of Exponential Polynomials," 1953-1965
2013-106/3 "Probability Program," Lyons TV, 1957
2013-106/1 "Functions of Class A-sub-m" [unpublished?], 1960
Bernstein and Coon talks, abstracts, 1960
2013-106/3 Computing talks and materials, 1960-1965
Talks, American Mathematical Society meeting, 1960
Traveling Faculty Seminar materials, Goucher College, 1961-1964
“Some General Formulas for Double Laplace Transformations,” written with Geraldine Coon, 1962-1963
“Continuous Change: A Short History of Mathematics at Goucher,” Goucher College Alumnae Quarterly, 1965
"Functions of class A-sub-m," typed copy 1966
“Classical and Generalized Solutions of Mixed Boundary Value Problems,” University of Maryland, 1966
“Computer-Based Deferential Equations” talk, Committee on Undergraduate Program in Mathematics, 1971
“Imagination and Relevance,” clippings and manuscript for Goucher Weekly 1972
MAA talk, 1973
2013-106/1 "How to Make and Break Codes" talk, 1970-1974
"The Role of Applications in Pure Mathematics"
Drafts, circa 1978
Correspondence with Monthly and manuscripts, 1978-1979
Criticism and reprint requests, 1979
2013-106/3 Reprint, 1979
2013-106/1 Talks: "The Role of Applications..." and "Some Remarks on Boundary Value Problems..." 1978
"Women Mathematicians before 1950" panel, Association for Women in Mathematics, 1979
"A Small College's Experience with Applications" talk, 1980
"Biography of a Theorem" talk, 1980
"Mathematical Expectations," paper for Monthly, 1982
"The Real World of the 30s" [includes correspondence with Geraldine Coon], 2003
"The Cauchy Problem in Partial Differential Equations," undated
"The Differential Equations of Literary Criticism," undated
2013-106/3 Calculations and speaking notes, undated
2013-106/1 "Mathematical Models and Existence Theorems" talk, undated
Notes and drafts, undated
2013-106/3 “General Properties of the Laplace Transformation and Laplace Integral,” handwritten draft, undated
Talks: notes and drafts [unidentified], 1932, 1952, and undated
Talks [unidentified] 1957 and undated
2013-106/1 Faculty activities:
Mount Holyoke College, 1937-1939
University of Wisconsin, 1940-1942
2015-153/1 Mathematics Research Center – symposium documents, 1952
Dedication of Van Vleck Hall, 1962
Honors program, 1977
2013-106/1 University of California, Berkeley, 1941-1943
2013-106/3 University of Rochester
Administrative material, 1950-1963
Colloquia, 1953-1958
2015-153/1 Committee lists, regulations, 1953-1957
2013-106/3 Mathematics department correspondence and memos, 1957-1959
2013-106/1 Graduate students, 1960-1961
Goucher College
2015-153/1 1960-1979 (8 folders)
2013-106/1 Internships, 1973-1978
Administrative material, 1977, circa 1978
2013-106/3 Administrative correspondence, 1977-1979
Mathematics department evaluation, 1977
2013-106/1 "Mathematics at Goucher College" report, 1977
2015-153/1 University of Tennessee – visiting professor documents, 1974-1975
2013-106/1 Brown University, letters of appointment, 1979-1984
2013-106/3 Various correspondence and memos, 1943, 1974-1979
Professional correspondence:
University of California, Berkeley, 1941
2015-153/1 Letters from former students, letters of recommendation, 1949-1977 (2 folders)
2013-106/3 Princeton University Press, 1958
Job search, 1959
Goucher College, 1959
University of Wisonsin - Milwaukee, 1959
2015-153/1 Torrey Prize, 1965, 1979
2013-106/3 University of Tennessee and Oakridge National Laboratory, 1966-1967
Hood College, 1972
University of Tennessee, 1973-1976
“Existence Theories of Peano Type,” 1957
National Science Foundation Research Proposal by Geraldine Coon, 1961
National Science Foundation grants for Goucher College computer lab, 1961-1962
“Cooperative College-School Science Program,” 1967
“Development of an Applied Mathematics Major in a Small Mathematics Department,” 1972
Notes and materials, 1960-1976
2013-106/1 International Congress of Mathematicians, Stockholm, 1962
Other conferences, 1965-1970
Symposium on the Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations, 1965
Two-Year College Mathematics Journal [Bernstein and Coon], 1975-1976
National Science Foundation, 1977-1981
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, 1980
2013-106/3 Notes:
D. V. Widden, 1927-1938 and undated
Bounded Variations, undated
2013-106/4 Early thesis notes, before Double Laplace Transforms, undated
Frechet Variation, undated



2013-106/1 Education:
University of Wisconsin, 1930-1934
MA thesis, "Some Problems in Approximation of Roots of Polynomials," 1934
Brown University, 1935-1939
Correspondence with Mark Ingraham and R. G. D. Richardson, 1936-1941
2013-106/4 Correspondence with J. D. Tamarkin on thesis, 1937-1939
2013-106/1 PhD thesis, "The Double Laplace Integral," 1939
4RM55b PhD diploma, 1939
2013-106/2 Vitae:
Clippings, certificates, and other material, 1951, 1977-1985
Clippings and correspondence, 1952, 1960-1979, 1988, undated
2013-106/4 Clippings and correspondence, 1977-1978
2013-106/2 Goucher College annual activity reports and other material, 1961-1977, 1989
Notes, 1973-1974, undated
Drafts, clippings, and photos, 1979-1987
2013-106/4 GoucherAlumnae Quarterly, Spring, 1980
Who's Who in the East, undated
2013-106/2 Correspondence:
Letter from John von Neumann, 1941
2013-106/4 Reprint requests 1953-1966
John Randolph, 1955-1956
2013-106/2 Harvey Mudd College, 1959-1960, 1973
Former Goucher students, 1961, 1980-1981
Goucher, 1981
Geraldine Coon [correspondence with others about Bernstein], 1988-1993
Honors and awards:
Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa, 1936-1938
American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow, 1981
Towson State University, honorary degree, 1981
Articles and obituaries [compiled by Geraldine Coon?], 1979, 1988, 2008, undated
"Women and Mathematics - A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook," 1985
2013-106/4 Drafts and published materials, 1978 and undated
2013-106/2 Photographs:
Gail Young and Dorothy Bernstein, 1972