Person: Lorch (2), Lee Alexander
Lee Lorch was an American mathematician who was an early civil rights activist, and communist.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Adolph Lorch was a butcher and later a textile manufacturer.
- After graduating with his first degree, Lorch went to the University of Cincinnati where he studied for a Master's Degree.
- The estimation of such constants for various summability methods was calculated by Lorch and his first published paper, following on from his thesis work, was The Lebesgue constants for Borel summability (1944) which, as the title indicates made a study in the case of Borel summability.
- In a second paper, On Fejér's calculation of the Lebesgue constants (1945), Lorch gives a representation for the Lebesgue constants which avoids the use of the gamma function.
- However, Lorch's mathematical career had been interrupted by World War II.
- After graduating with his doctorate, Lorch did mathematically related war work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which exempted him from military service.
- Lorch served with the Army Air Corps in India and the South Pacific, ending his military service in the spring of 1946.
- Lorch was aware of this but, nevertheless, decided to move to Stuyvesant Town and try to change the "whites only" policy from the inside.
- Being an excellent mathematicians and teacher, Lorch soon found another position, this time as an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University where he was appointed in September 1949.
- Lorch's next move was to accept a position at Fisk University in Nashville in September 1950.
- Evelyn Boyd Granville was an associate professor of mathematics at Fisk when Lorch joined but, unable to accept the highly restrictive terms under which black women could hold academic posts, she left in 1952.
- Lorch was made acting head of mathematics when he joined Fisk and, one year later, became the Head of Mathematics.
- Among the undergraduates that Lorch taught at Fisk, we mention Etta Zuber Falconer.
- In addition, Lorch was the thesis advisor to several students.
- Vivienne Mayes assisted Lorch with the Elementary Analysis class at Fisk in session 1950-51.
- Since he is a Professor at Tuskegee (less than twenty miles away) he was able to return home to sleep.
- Had he come from a more distant institution and desired to remain over for the second day of the meeting there is no telling where he might have had to sleep.
- Lorch was dismissed from Fisk University in 1955.
- Shortly after this, Lorch was summoned to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
- The Trustees of Fisk College then reviewed Lorch's case and he appeared before them on 28 October.
- And in the process of punishing Lee Lorch for his views, three proud institutions of learning have been made to grovel in the dust and bow the knee to bigotry.
- Out of a job again, Lorch was appointed to Philander Smith College, in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- The situation became so intolerable that Lorch resigned.
- During his early 90s, Lorch collaborated on a research paper about Bessel functions with Prof Martin Muldoon, a former grad student under Lorch in Edmonton, who was also retired from York's Mathematics Department.
- Lorch travelled to and from the campus frequently well into his 90s.
- During his later years, Lorch loved the freedom that e-mail and the Internet provided and while his physical mobility decreased, his online activity and activism increased.
- Up until he was hospitalized, Lorch devoured five newspapers a day, including the 'New York Times'.
- The latter part of Lorch's career saw him recognised by many organisations, including two institutions that had dismissed him.
- Lorch died in hospital in Toronto at the age of 98.
Born 20 September 1915, New York City, USA. Died 28 February 2014, Toronto, Canada.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive