Women Mathematicians and NMAH CollectionsOlive C. Hazlett: Music and Puzzles
|Olive C. Hazlett. Photograph courtesy of LHM Institute. (AHB2012q06024)|
Olive Clio Hazlett (1890-1974) was a leading American mathematician of the 1920s. She was the most prolific of the US-born women of her time who worked in pure mathematics and was recognized for her research accomplishments when, in 1927, she became the second US-born woman to be ranked as one of American’s leading mathematicians by her peers, a distinction marked by a “star” in American Men of Science. In 1984, Hazlett was one of three mathematicians whose lives were celebrated in an exhibit NMAH.
Hazlett, who was awarded a PhD in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1915, spent a postdoctoral year at Harvard University before she began her teaching career at Bryn Mawr. In 1918 she moved to Mount Holyoke and seven years later she moved to the University of Illinois.
As with most people, mathematicians have interests outside their profession. Among mathematicians, including Hazlett, these outside interests often relate to music and puzzles. Among objects in the collections that were displayed in 1984 are her tenor recorder, a set of dominoes with more spots than one sees on most domino sets, and twelve Japanese interlocking wooden puzzles called “Kumiki.”
|“Commemorating American Mathematics,” 1984 Exhibit at NMAH. (SI Neg #84-5347-2)
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- These twelve interlocking three-dimensional wooden puzzles were made in Japan, likely by the Yamanaka Kumiki Works. Each is individually wrapped in plastic and includes a sheet showing how to assemble it. A trademark on the bottom of the box includes an image of a globe surrounded by the letters T T N Y. According a 1978 application to the US Patent and Trademark Office by the Traveler Trading Company, Inc., the mark was first used in commerce in 1950. Since imports from Japan between 1945 and 1952 had to be labeled “Made in occupied Japan” and the labels on the box, the puzzles, and the instructions, all read “Made in Japan,” these puzzles were imported into the United States some time after 1952.
- These types of Japanese puzzles are called “kumiki” and are said to be related to the traditional construction of wooden buildings that did not use nails or glue. This particular set includes four familiar geometrical shapes (a sphere, a cube, a barrel, and an octagonal prism), four animals (an elephant, a pig, a bird, and a dog), and four shapes without common names. Only the dog and one of the unnamed shapes are unassembled.
- These kumiki puzzles belonged to Olive C. Hazlett (1890–1974), one of America's leading mathematicians during the 1920s. Hazlett taught at Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Illinois, after which she moved to Peterborough, New Hampshire. The puzzles were collected from the Carmelite community of Leadore, Idaho. Brothers from this community had lived in New Hampshire earlier, and befriended Hazlett there.
- REFERENCE: Jerry Slocum and Rik van Grol, “Early Japanese Export Puzzles: 1860s to 1960s,” in Puzzlers’ Tribute: A Feast for the Mind, eds. David Wolfe and Tom Rodgers (Natick, MA: A. K. Peters, 2002): pp. 257-71.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1955
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center