Person: Finkel, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin Finkel was a mathematician and educator most remembered today as the founder of the American Mathematical Monthly journal.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Finkel had not given up his university studies, rather he was having to undertake work as a high school teacher to bring in enough money to allow him to continue studying.
- It is worth stating at this point the two things for which Finkel is most famous.
- Taken from the Leading Authors on Arithmetic and Algebra, Many Problems and Solutions from Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus, Many Problems and Solutions from the Leading Mathematical Journals of the United States, and Many Original Problems and Solutions with Notes and Explanations by B F Finkel.
- We have a version of the preface that Finkel wrote in 1888 for the first edition of this work and also a version of the preface to the third edition of 1899 which contains interesting comments on the teaching of mathematics in the United States around 1900.
- In fact, in 1895, Finkel was offered scholarships by both the University of Chicago and by Yale University to study for a Ph.D. He accepted the scholarship from the University of Chicago but, being offered the professorship at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri, he resigned the scholarship.
- The above quote takes the account of Finkel's career beyond 1894 when the first part of The American Mathematical Monthly was published so let us recount briefly the events leading up to this important event.
- This was in 1893 when he was living in Kidder, Missouri and so Finkel approached Edward J Chubbuck, who published the local Kidder newspaper, about printing and distributing a journal.
- Chubbuck agreed, so Finkel then approached John Marvin Colaw who was a high school teacher at Monterey, Virginia, asking him if he would be interested in becoming a co-editor.
- Colaw, who had an A.B. and an A.M. from Dickinson College, was already known to Finkel as a contributor of mathematical problems to publications aimed at high school teachers.
- They received an enthusiastic response from professors at universities and colleges but a very poor response from high school teachers who did not seem to think that a publication such as Finkel was proposing was needed.
- L E Dickson joined Finkel as an editor of the Monthly in October 1902, H E Slaught joined him in January 1907, and G A Miller in January 1909.
- While retaining his position at Drury College, Finkel was appointed as Harrison Fellow in mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1905.
- Finkel was honoured by Drury College in 1923 when they awarded him an honorary degree.
- Finkel contributed many problem and biographies to the Monthly and it is remarkable that, in 2013, the third most accessed Monthly article in the previous three years was one by Finkel - in fact his biography of René Descartes.
Born 5 July 1865, Amanda, Fairfield County, Ohio, USA. Died 5 February 1947, Springfield, Missouri, USA.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive