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MATH 301: History of Mathematics (Knudsen) Alden Room Spring 2022 301:01

Do a project on the mathematics textbook collection

If you are interested in studying some aspect of K-12 mathematics textbooks dating from the late 1700s to the late 1900s, this is the project for you!  There are many options for you to consider, including but not limited to:

  • ‚ÄčAnalyzing how images were used 
  • Examining similarities and differences between how girls and boys were taught mathematics
  • Exploring how gender was portrayed in the exercises and examples in the books
  • Comparing and contrasting how a particular math subject was taught over a period of time
  • Examining what notation was used during different time periods
  • Analyzing introductions and prefaces of a particular subject

Pages from two early math textbooks

pages from two early math textbooks

pages from two mid 1800s math textbooks

Study old student-teaching observations

Student teaching has been part of the College's history since its very beginning in 1889 as the Oneonta Normal School.  As pat of the process, student teachers were observed, and records were kept of such observations.  The Archives holds about a dozen of these observation books from the early 1900s, and if you are interested in seeing how student teachers were analyzed, then this is the project for you!  There are a number of options for this topic, including but not limited to:

  • Making a map that depicts where students were from for a particular year
  • Locating yearbook photos and other information about the students from a particular year
  • Discerning the types of skills and qualities that were commented on during student teaching observations

Two pages from student evaluation notebooks from 1904

Study old student notebooks

Students have been keeping notebooks for classes since the very beginning of Oneonta Normal School.  If you are interested in seeing a student notebook from the early 1900s, analyzing the mathematical content of the notes, and determining how mathematics was taught at the time, this is the project for you!  You are welcome to look at the originals, but we also have digital scans and transcripts (courtesy of previous Math students!)

Edith Sturgess was a student at the turn of the century, and her 1901 mathematics notebook is one of the fascinating early notebooks you can choose from.

yearbook photo of a 1901 female student, and two pages of her mathematics notebook

Social Security and Mathematics

When Julia Huddleston was studying at the Oneonta Normal School in the 1930s, Social Security was a fairly new topic, having only been signed into law for three years before Julia created an extensive curriculum on the topic in her paper titled "Arithmetic Unit on Social Security." If you are interested in learning how one Oneonta Normal School student addressed this topic and created a specialized curriculum for it, then this is the project for you!  You will use her paper and information about Julia to develop your own module on social security and mathematics for use in schools.

photo of a student from the 1930s and the title page of her mathematics and social security paper

Study the diaries of Arthur M. Curtis

Arthur Curtis was the second faculty member hired to teach mathematics at the Oneonta Normal School (Percy Bugbee was the 1st).  He taught from 1895 until his retirement in 1933, and during four of these years he kept a diary that miraculously found its way to the Archives.  If you are interested in learning more about the life of Arthur Curtis through his diaries, this project is for you!  You will scan the material, create transcriptions, and comment on the contents.

Photograph of Arthur M Curtis and two pages from his diary

Study teaching materials of Arthur M. Curtis

While he was teaching at Oneonta Normal School, Arthur Curtis authored a number of mathematics-related pamphlets.  If you are interested in learning how he taught his college students to teach mathematics to their students at the K-12 level, then this project is for you!   

Pamphlet titled Suggestions for the Teaching of Arithmetic

Teaching pamphlet titled A Preparation for Teaching Percentage

Study the work and life of Dr. Vera Sanford

Dr. Vera Sanford, hired by the Oneonta Normal School to replace Arthur Curtis after his retirement in 1933, was instrumental in raising the scholarly reputation of our College.  In addition to chairing and growing the Mathematics Department, she had a plethora of publications and many impressive accomplishments.  If you are interested in learning more about her life and the difference she made to our College and to the profession, this is the project for you!

yearbook photos of Dr. Vera Sanford

Interview faculty members from the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics

Faculty members in all departments make a mark on the history of the College and on the lives of students. Even when articles, photos, or memorabilia are preserved in the archives, these don't always tell the full story of what it was like to actually teach here. They don't always bring to life the memories, and the things that made Oneonta really meaningful: the funny stories, the frustrations, the surprises, and the accomplishments.  If you are interested in helping ensure that the history of the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics is preserved by interviewing a number of current faculty members and making these oral histories available for future generations in the archives, then this is the project for you!

1959 yearbook photo of the math department at SUNY Oneonta

yearbook photo of the math faculty members in 1965