University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Marian Pour-El Papers, 1940-2004

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Pour-El, Marian B. (Marian Boykan), 1928-
Title: Marian Pour-El papers
Dates: 1935-2004
Abstract: The Pour-El Papers, 1935-2004, consist of Pour-El's research papers, research papers of other mathematicians, handwritten notes, professional correspondence, and printed materials related to university activities, professional organizations, conferences, fellowships and grants, honors and awards, and women's issues. Also included are biographical materials, school records, personal correspondence, and printed materials regarding women's issues.
Identification: urn:taro:utexas.cah.03119
Extent: 16.92 linear feet
Language: English .
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Marian Pour-El (1928-2009) was born in New York City, New York. She completed her bachelor's degree in physics at Hunter College (1945), her A.M. in mathematics at Harvard College (1951), and continued her studies in mathematical logic at Harvard to earn her Ph.D. in 1958. She was one of the first and only female students in the Harvard mathematics department, a trend that she encountered throughout her career.

During her Ph.D. studies, Pour-El left Harvard to study under logicians in Berkeley, where she met her future husband, Akiva Pour-El, who was pursuing his doctorate in biochemistry. After receiving her Ph.D., she moved to University Park, Pennsylvania, to begin a post as a professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. Pour-El taught there for the next seven years, except for a one-year sabbatical visiting position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1962-1964, where she met mathematician Kurt Gödel. She left Pennsylvania State University in 1968 to accept a professorship at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, remaining where she remained until her retirement in 2000. From 1969 to 1970, Pour-El was a visiting professor at the University of Bristol in England.

Her research produced over 30 published works,including one book, Computability in Analysis and Physics, co-authored with Ian Richards. Along with teaching duties and research, Pour-El served on a number of university committees that included university procedural matters, computer science department planning, search committees, and women graduate students.

Pour-El actively participated in mathematics organizations, including the American Mathematical Society (AMS), Mathematical Association of America (MAA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL), and the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). She sat on various committees, particularly with AMS, including the Committee for Committees, Committee on Translations from Russians, Committee to Monitor Problems in Communication, and the Committee on Professional Ethics, among others.

A significant portion of Pour-El's involvement in the mathematical community and scholarship came from the many presentations she made at conferences, lectures, and symposiums both in the United States but internationally. In addition, she was invited to speak at events in Hungary, England, the Czech Republic, China, Japan, Germany, and Russia.

Pour-El received several honors, including a symposium held in her honor in Japan (1993), election as an AAAS fellow (1983), and election to the Hunter Hall of Fame (1975). She belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Sigma Pi Sigma. In addition to her fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, she was awarded fellowships from the National Academy of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Due to the commitments to their respective careers, Pour-El and her husband lived apart for a large portion of their marriage in varying amounts of time and distance. Because of this, Pour-El and her husband often raised their daughter, Ina, in a single-parent household. She wrote several articles about her nontraditional marriage, including, "Spatial Separation in Family Life: A Mathematician's Choice," published in Mathematics Tomorrow. She was especially interested in the advancement of women in society and in the workplace, particularly in mathematics and sciences.

Scope and Contents

The Pour-El papers, 1940-2004, consist of Pour-El's research papers, research papers of other mathematicians, handwritten notes, professional correspondence, and printed materials related to university activities, professional organizations, conferences, fellowships and grants, honors and awards, and women's issues. Also included are biographical materials, school records, personal correspondence, and printed materials regarding women's issues. The collection is divided into four series: Professional, Personal, Photographs, and Audio-Visual.

The bulk of the collection is in the Professional series, which documents Pour-El's and others' published works as well as correspondence with other mathematicians around the world, among them Kurt Godel, Lenore Blum, Erwin Engeler, John Myhill, Ian Richards, and Anthony Dunlop. Other contents include handwritten notes detailing Pour-El's work, university activities, salary reports, committee work, activity reports, and Vitae drafts. Pour-El's many honors and awards are documented, along with her numerous travel and research grant awards.

The Personal series documents Pour-El's interest in women's issues, school records, correspondence with classmates and friends, and journals, primarily of her travels abroad. A scrapbook documents her education, from middle school through graduate school.

The Photographs series documents Pour-El's international travels to Europe, Israel, and Asia, including her fellowship with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Also included are several photographs of Pour-El herself at various times in her life.

Finally, the Audio-Visual series contains 8 mm film and audiocassette recordings taken by Pour-El, documenting her travels, attendance at mathematical meetings, conference presentations, and oral history.

Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.

Note: The scrapbook in the Personal series was partially disassembled for preservation purposes. However, photocopies were taken of the pages in their original configuration, which are included with the collection.


Conditions Governing Access

A portion of this collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.

A portion of this collection is restricted. Contact repository for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Bernays, Paul, 1888-1977
Blum, Lenore.
Church, Alonzo, 1903-1995
Cipra, Barry.
Curry, Haskell B. (Haskell Brooks), 1900-1982
Dunlop, Anthony
Engeler, Erwin.
Gödel, Kurt
Myhill, John, 1923-1987
Pour-El, Marian B. (Marian Boykan), 1928-
Richards, Ann, 1933-2006
Corporate Names
American Mathematics Society
Association for Women in Mathematics (U.S.)
Harvard university
Hunter college
Institute for advanced study Princeton, N.J.
Mathematical association of America
Pennsylvania state university
Phi beta kappa
Pi Mu Epsilon
Radcliffe College
Sigma Pi Sigma
Sigma Xi, the scientific research society
University of Bristol.
University of California, Berkeley.
University of Minnesota.
Computable functions
Functional analysis
Gödel numbers
Logic, Symbolic and mathematical
Recursion theory

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Marian Pour-El Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Accession Number(s)

2011-025; 2012-350

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Helen Kim, November 2011.

Revised by Elliot Williams, January 2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Written work by Marian Pour-El (MPE)
Papers (published and unpublished) by MPE, 1953-2001, undated
2011-025/1 Papers
2011-025/2 Papers
2012-350/1 Papers by MPE, 1957, undated
2011-025/2 Book drafts, 1988, undated
Reviews, 1959-2001, undated
Conditions Governing Access
2011-025/3 Reviews, 1960-1997, undated
Papers by others, 1941-1996, undated
2011-025/4 Papers by others, 1964-1996, undated
2011-025/5 Papers by others, 1972-1998, undated
2012-350/1 Papers by others, undated
2011-025/5 Handwritten notes by MPE, 1955-1994, undated
2011-025/6 Handwritten notes by MPE, 1970-1997, undated
2011-025/7 Handwritten notes by MPE, undated
University activities
2011-025/7 Teaching, 1985-1998, undated
Administrative, 1958-2001, undated
2011-025/8 Student papers, 1975-2000, undated
2011-025/8 1956-2004, undated
2011-025/9 1963-1996, undated
2012-350/1 1993, 1997
2011-025/10 Organizations, 1960-1999, undated
2011-025/11 Organizations, 1977-1995, undated
2011-025/11 Talks and Lectures, 1964-1997, undated
2012-350/1 Talks and lectures, 1966, undated
2011-025/12 Fellowships/Grants and Travel Applications, 1963-1995, undated
Biographical materials
2011-025/12 Vitae and activity reports, 1970-2000, undated
Honors and awards, 1959-2001, undated
2012-350/1 Honors and awards, 1959, 1971-1977, 1983, 2000-2005


Women's issues
2011-025/12 Press clippings, 1965-1991, undated
Committee work, 1969-1995, undated
2011-025/13 Organizations, 1966-1998, undated
Written works, 1958-1997, undated
Correspondence, 1973-1995, undated
2012-350/1 Clippings and publications, circa 1978, 1998
Biographical materials
2011-025/14 School records, 1940-1999, undated
2011-025/15 School records, 1940-1999
2012-350/1 School records, 1942-1961
4RM55b [SRH1230020474] Diplomas, 1951, 1958
2011-025/15 Miscellaneous personal correspondence and info
Personal correspondence and info, 1958-1994, undated
2012-350/2 Personal correspondence and info, 1954-2004, undated
Journals, 1968-1970, 1992-1993
2012-350/3 Scrapbook, 1935-1953


4RM203d [SRH1230024917] Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship symposium, 1993
2012-350/2 Lake Balaton, Hungary, 1968
Portraits of MPE and slides, 1972, 1979, 2000, undated
Unidentified slides and negatives, circa 1940s, 1972
4RM203d [SRH1230024917] China negatives, undated
Negatives '87 [Japan and Israel], circa 1987
Neg. '89 [Israel and Europe], circa 1989
Negatives [unlabeled], 1989-1991, undated

Audio-Visual Material

8 mm Films
2011-025/16 Cornwall, 1967
London, 1969?
Trip to Israel I, 1969?
Trip to Israel II, 1969?
North Italy, 1969-1970
Rome, 1970
Athens, undated
Eire, U.K., etc. (meeting?), undated
France I, undated
France II, undated
Greek islands, undated
Netherlands and Belgium (includes meeting), undated
Peleponesos tour, undated
Russian trip I (includes meeting), undated
Russian trip II (includes meeting), undated
Spain I, undated
[Untitled], undated
[Untitled], undated
[Untitled], undated
[Untitled], undated
2011-025/16 AWM meeting, St. Louis, Choosing Our Lives, January 29, 1977
AWM meeting, St. Louis, History of Math.: Ladies Diaries, January 30, 1977
AWM lecture, "My Ethical Problems in Math. Life,", August 13, 1985
Lecture in Nagoya, November 1988
Lecture in Nagoya (Duplicate), November 1988
Marian Pour-El, IC, February 22, 1992
Marian Pour-El, IA and IB, February 23, 1992
Marian Pour-El, IIA and IIB, February 24, 1992
Marian Pour-El, IIC, February 24, 1992
Marian Pour-El, IIIA and IIIB, February 25, 1992
Marian Pour-El, IVA, February 26, 1992
AWIS lecture, undated
Computers lecture, undated
Lecture on compatibility (Old form), undated
Math. Exam, undated
Mathematics lecture, undated
Marian's Story [I], undated
Marian's Story [II], undated
"Separate Stables," Marian's and Akiva's story in their words, undated