Person: Gentry, Ruth Ellen
Ruth Gentry was a pioneering American woman mathematician. She worked mainly in geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Jeremiah Gentry was born in Bullitt county, Kentucky, to Blackstone Gentry and Nancy Hough.
- Ruth was brought up on a farm near to Stilesville and her early education was in the small village of Stilesville.
- Gentry's secondary education was at the Indiana State Normal School in Terre Haute.
- It had therefore only been in operation for a short time when Gentry began her education there.
- After graduating in 1880 Gentry had qualified as a teacher and indeed she did teach for ten years in preparatory schools.
- In 1870 the University of Michigan had become one the first colleges in the United States to admit women undergraduates so it was a fairly natural choice for Gentry to make when she decided to study for her bachelor's degree.
- Wishing to continue her studies to graduate level Gentry entered Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
- It also had an excellent reputation in mathematics although at the time when Gentry entered the College in 1890 very few women had received a Ph.D. in mathematics in the United States.
- Charlotte Scott supervised Gentry's graduate studies.
- After a year at Bryn Mawr, Gentry was awarded the prestigious Association of College Alumnae European Fellowship which would finance her studies in Europe.
- Gentry was the second recipient of the award and the first mathematician.
- Gentry was able to attend lectures at the University of Berlin by Lazarus Fuchs and by Ludwig Schlesinger for a semester but was not able to formally enrol so it was impossible for her to read for a degree.
- Gentry then went to Paris where she spent a semester attending mathematics lectures at the Sorbonne before returning to Bryn Mawr.
- While a graduate student Gentry joined the New York Mathematical Society in 1894; the Society became the American Mathematical Society shortly after she joined.
- Gentry passed the examinations required for a Ph.D. in June 1894 but her thesis On the Forms of Plane Quartic Curves took two years to print so her degree from Bryn Mawr only became official 1896.
- Before the award of her Ph.D., Gentry had been appointed to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, taking up the appointment in 1896.
- This was a women's college which had been set up to allow women to obtain an education of equivalent standard to that available to men and the appointment of Gentry was important to them for she was the first mathematics faculty member with a Ph.D. She was appointed by the Head of Mathematics at Vassar College, Achsah Mount Ely (1846-1904).
- Gentry was promoted to associate professor in 1900 and she taught there until 1902.
- In 1905 Gentry resigned her position.
Born 22 February 1862, Stilesville, Hendricks county, Indiana, USA. Died 18 October 1917, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Usa, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive