Famous 19th Century American Mathematicians

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century American Mathematicians, including Charles Sanders Peirce, Alfred North Whitehead, Norbert Wiener, Josiah Willard Gibbs and Nathaniel Bowditch.
Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century American Mathematicians
 1 
Edwin Powell Hubble
(American Astronomer Who is Regarded as the Leading Observational Cosmologist of the 20th Century)
Edwin Powell Hubble
6
Birthdate: November 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marshfield, Missouri, United States
Died: September 28, 1953

While the Hubble Telescope, named after Edwin Powell Hubble, reminds one of his contribution to astronomy, he failed to get a Nobel Prize, as back in his time, the Nobel Committee didn’t recognize astrophysics as a valid science. He is best remembered for his work on galaxies and extragalactic astronomy.

 2 
Norbert Wiener
(Father of Cybernetics)
Norbert Wiener
4
Birthdate: November 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Columbia, Missouri, United States
Died: March 18, 1964
 3 
Alfred North Whitehead
(Mathematician, Philosopher)
Alfred North Whitehead
10
Birthdate: February 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ramsgate, Kent, England
Died: December 30, 1947

Alfred North Whitehead was a British mathematician and philosopher, best known for his collaboration with his student Bertrand Russell on Principal of Mathematics, a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics. Also known for his pioneering works on process philosophy and metaphysics, he is credited with developing a comprehensive metaphysical system that differs from most Western philosophies.

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 4 
Josiah Willard Gibbs
3
Birthdate: February 11, 1839
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: April 28, 1903

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist best remembered for making major theoretical contributions to mathematics, physics, and chemistry. As a mathematician, Gibbs is credited with inventing modern vector calculus. In 1901, he was honored with the prestigious Copley Medal for his contributions. Josiah Willard Gibbs's work had a major influence on physicists like J. D. van der Waals.

 5 
Percival Lowell
(Astronomer, Mathematician)
Percival Lowell
4
Birthdate: March 13, 1855
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston
Died: November 12, 1916

Born into the famous Brahmin Lowell family of Massachusetts, Percival Lowell studied at Harvard, where he excelled in math. He managed a cotton mill and also spent time in Asia as a diplomat. He is best remembered for initiating the discovery of Pluto and for studying the canals on Mars.

 6 
Charles Proteus Steinmetz
(German Mathematician and Engineer Whose Research on AC Systems Revolutionized the US Electric Industry)
Charles Proteus Steinmetz
3
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: October 26, 1923

Though German-born American mathematician and engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a deformed back since childhood, he excelled in math, physics, and classical literature. His ideas on alternating current (AC) systems initiated the electrical era in the US. By the time he died, he had over 200 patents under his name.

 7 
Harry Nyquist
(Physicist, Computer scientist, Engineer, Statistician, Mathematician)
Harry Nyquist
3
Birthdate: February 7, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kil Municipality
Died: April 4, 1976

Harry Nyquist was a Swedish electronic engineer and physicist best remembered for his contributions to communication theory. His work earned him many prestigious awards such as the IRE Medal of Honor, the Stuart Ballantine Medal, and the Rufus Oldenburger Medal. Harry Nyquist is also remembered for his association with Bell Telephone Laboratories.

 8 
Simon Newcomb
(Astronomer, Mathematician, Economist, Novelist, Writer, Teacher, University teacher, Science fiction writer)
Simon Newcomb
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1835
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nova Scotia
Died: July 11, 1909

Initially a herbalist’s apprentice, Simon Newcomb later deviated to mathematics and astronomy. Born to a schoolteacher, he had loved math since age 5 but wasn’t formally educated. He later joined Harvard University, taught math at the US Navy, detected locations of celestial bodies, and wrote a science-fiction novel, too.

 9 
Nathaniel Bowditch
(Mathematician, Astronomer, Actuary, Physicist, Sailor)
Nathaniel Bowditch
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1773
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salem
Died: March 16, 1838

At 10, Nathaniel Bowditch was forced to quit studies due to poverty and started working, first at his father’s shop and then as a clerk in other shops. During his voyages in merchant ships, he discovered his love for math. He later redefined maritime navigation with his mathematical research.

 10 
Solomon Lefschetz
(Mathematician, Topologist, University teacher)
Solomon Lefschetz
2
Birthdate: September 3, 1884
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: October 5, 1972
 11 
Warren Weaver
(mathematician, university teacher, computer scientist)
Warren Weaver
2
Birthdate: June 17, 1894
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wisconsin
Died: November 24, 1978
Orson Pratt
2
Edward Kasner
2
 14 
George David Birkhoff
(Mathematician)
George David Birkhoff
2
Birthdate: March 21, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Overisel, Michigan, United States
Died: November 12, 1944
 15 
Kelly Miller
(American mathematician)
Kelly Miller
2
Birthdate: July 18, 1863
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Winnsboro, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 29, 1939
 16 
Richard C. Tolman
(American Physical Chemist and Mathematical Physicist Who Made Immense Contribution to Statistical Mechanics)
Richard C. Tolman
2
Birthdate: March 4, 1881
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: West Newton, Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 5, 1948

Richard C. Tolman was an American physical chemist and mathematical physicist. He is best remembered for making immense contributions to statistical mechanics. Tolman also made significant contributions to theoretical cosmology. Richard C. Tolman is also remembered for his association with the California Institute of Technology, where he worked as a professor of mathematical physics and physical chemistry.

 17 
Eric Temple Bell
(Mathematician, Historian of mathematics, Novelist, Writer, Science fiction writer)
Eric Temple Bell
2
Birthdate: February 7, 1883
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Peterhead
Died: December 21, 1960

Born to a Scottish factor, mathematician Eric Temple Bell spent most of his life in the U.S. The Stanford alumnus contributed to the analytic number theory and also taught math at institutes such as Caltech. He also penned sci-fi novels such as The Time Stream as John Taine.

 18 
Oswald Veblen
(Mathematician)
Oswald Veblen
2
Birthdate: June 24, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Decorah, Iowa, United States
Died: August 10, 1960
 19 
Benjamin Peirce
(Mathematician)
Benjamin Peirce
2
Birthdate: April 4, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 6, 1880
Christine Ladd-Franklin
1
Frank Nelson Cole
1
 22 
Jesse Douglas
(Mathematician)
Jesse Douglas
1
Birthdate: July 3, 1897
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: October 7, 1965
 23 
Agnes Meyer Driscoll
(Cryptologist)
Agnes Meyer Driscoll
2
Birthdate: July 24, 1889
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Illinois, United States
Died: September 16, 1971
Florian Cajori
1
 25 
Salomon Bochner
(Mathematician)
Salomon Bochner
1
Birthdate: August 20, 1899
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Podgórze, Kraków, Poland
Died: May 2, 1982

Austrian mathematician Salomon Bochner initially taught at the University of Munich but was forced to quit after the Nazis came to power. He then moved to the US and joined Princeton. He later also taught at Rice University and made significant contributions in areas such as probability theory and differential geometry.

 26 
James W. Alexander II
(Mathematician)
James W. Alexander II
1
Birthdate: September 19, 1888
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sea Bright, New Jersey, United States
Died: September 23, 1971
 27 
Henry Seely White
(Mathematician)
Henry Seely White
1
Birthdate: May 20, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cazenovia, New York, United States
Died: May 20, 1943
 28 
George William Hill
(American Astronomer and Mathematician)
George William Hill
1
Birthdate: March 3, 1838
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: April 16, 1914

Considered one of the pioneers of celestial mechanics, George William Hill is best remembered for his study on the motions of the Moon. He also studied the motion of Jupiter and Saturn. The Copley Medal-winning mathematician and astronomer also laid down the theory of ordinary differential equations.

 29 
Max Dehn
1
 30 
Francis Robbins Upton
(American physicist)
Francis Robbins Upton
1
Birthdate: July 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 10, 1921
Leonard Eugene Dickson
1
Hubert Anson Newton
1
 33 
Edwin Bidwell Wilson
(Mathematician)
Edwin Bidwell Wilson
1
Birthdate: April 25, 1879
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
 34 
Maxime Bôcher
(Mathematician)
Maxime Bôcher
1
Birthdate: August 28, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 12, 1918
 35 
Carl Georg Barth
(American Mathematician)
Carl Georg Barth
1
Birthdate: February 28, 1860
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oslo, Norway
Died: October 28, 1939
 36 
Robert Adrain
(Mathematician)
Robert Adrain
0
Birthdate: September 30, 1775
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Ireland
Died: August 10, 1843

Irish-born mathematician Robert Adrain moved to the US when he was 23, as a political refugee, after his campaign against the British Crown forces failed. In the US, he taught at various institutes, such as Rutgers and Columbia, and made significant contributions to algebra and statistics.

 37 
Max Mason
(Mathematician)
Max Mason
0
Birthdate: October 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died: March 22, 1961
 38 
Gilbert Ames Bliss
(Mathematician)
Gilbert Ames Bliss
0
Birthdate: May 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: May 8, 1951
 39 
Julian Coolidge
(Mathematician)
Julian Coolidge
0
Birthdate: September 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 5, 1954
 40 
Helen Almira Shafer
(Mathematician)
Helen Almira Shafer
0
Birthdate: September 23, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: January 20, 1894