Women Mathematicians and NMAH CollectionsSister Helen Sullivan: A College Teacher and More
|Sister Helen Sullivan, August 1981. Gift of Helen Sullivan (AHB2012q05998)|
Sister M. Helen Sullivan (1907-1998) represents the large number of American women with PhD’s in mathematics whose names and accomplishments are not well known within much of the mathematics community. Sullivan, like many other mathematicians, was a college teacher whose only mathematical research publication was her dissertation but who wrote about, among other subjects, the teaching of mathematics. She interacted with her own students as well as other students and mathematicians through her involvement in Kappa Mu Epsilon, a mathematical honor society, and on committees and panels of professional organizations that related to teaching.
Sullivan also represents the group of Catholic nuns who earned PhD’s in mathematics from Catholic University. During the 1930s, Catholic awarded more PhD’s in mathematics to American women, twelve (eleven of them nuns), than any other school except the University of Chicago, which awarded twenty-four. Catholic nuns were well represented at the August 1981 honoring women who received PhD’s in mathematics before World War II. Of the fifteen women who attended three were women religious and all had received PhD’s from Catholic: Sister Leonarda Burke in 1931, Sullivan in 1934, and Sister Elizabeth Frisch in 1940. All three shared the same dissertation advisor, Aubrey E. Landry. Landry advised twenty-eight doctoral students, eighteen of whom were women. Landry’s only woman student who was not a nun was Euphemia Lofton Haynes who, in 1943, became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics.
|Three women religious with PhD’s in mathematics, August 31, 1981. Left: Sisters Helen Sullivan and Leonarda Burke. Right: Sister Elizabeth Frisch with Uta C. Merzbach, then Curator of Mathematics, NMAH. (SI Neg #81-11283-3 & 81-11284-28)
Sullivan donated her publications and items related to Kappa Mu Epsilon to the museum. Most of her publications concern undergraduate research, teaching, and philosophy.
"Women Mathematicians and NMAH Collections - Sister Helen Sullivan: A College Teacher and More" showing 1 items.
- Sister M. Helen Sullivan donated items to the Smithsonian on the occasion of the August 31, 1981, meeting honoring American women in mathematics. Among these materials were several of her publications.
- 1993.3019.06.01. Her doctoral dissertation: The Number and Reality of the Non-Self-Symmetric Quadrilaterals In-and-Circumscribed to the Rational Unicuspidal Quartic with a Line of Symmetry, (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America, 1934).
- 1993.3019.06.02. Typewritten and bound text: The Christian Approach to Science: A Philosophic Integration for Science Majors in Liberal Arts Colleges. This text was used in a class Sullivan taught at Loyola University during the summer of 1949.
- 1993.3019.06.03. Published book: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, (New York: Vantage Press, Inc., 1952).
- 1993.3019.06.04. Spiral-bound copy of her published book An Introduction to the Philosophy of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (1993.3019.06.03) with “Additional Suggested Readings and Bibliography (Revised List – 1960).”
- 1993.3019.06.05. Carbon copy of a typescript, “Undergraduate Research in Mathematics.” Sullivan presented this paper at a meeting of the American Benedictine Academy in Canon City, Colorado, August 1961.
- 1993.3019.06.06. Carbon copy of a typescript, “Undergraduate Research in Mathematics in Catholic Colleges for Women.” Sullivan presented the paper at a meeting of the American Benedictine Academy in St. Josesph, Minnesota, August 1965.
- 1993.3019.06.07. Copy of a typescript with a removable hard cover, “Geometric Transformations.” A unit produced by the College Geometry Project, Minnesota School Mathematics and Science Center, University of Minnesota, under a grant from the National Science Foundation, August 1966.
- 1993.3019.06.08. Syllabus for a course, MA 465 Modern Geometry, taught by Sullivan at Mount St. Scholastica College during the first semester of the academic year 1969–70.
- 1993.3019.06.09. Copy of an article, “Catholicism in Ireland, As I See It,” The Furrow 22 (Fall 1971): 615-21. This was published in an Irish journal shortly after Sister Helen Sullivan spent a sabbatical year at University College, Galway.
- Currently not on view
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- Sullivan, Sister Helen
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- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center