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History of Mathematics
A Guide to Doing Research in the HSU Library

Before beginning your research project, it is recommended that you think about how comprehensive your research must be, how current your sources of information need to be, and your intended audience's level of expertise. Then define your research topic as specifically as possible and don't be afraid to refine your topic as you learn more about it. Suggested guidelines for doing library research follow and may be adapted to fit your needs.

Table of ContentsTable of Contents

How do I find background information on my topic?
How do I find books on my topic?
How do I find articles on my topic?
Mathematics Indexes
History Indexes
Biography Indexes
Another way to research -- via citations!
Does the Library have the item I need?
If the Library doesn't have the item, where can I get it?
What about resources on the Internet/Web?
Critically evaluate the information you find

Book IconHow do I find background information on my topic?

Reference Materials

Reference materials can provide you with background information, major theories or researchers, and definitions of key terms. Print and selected electronic reference materials are listed in the HSU Library Catalog and may be located by adding terms such as encyclopedia?, director?, dictionar?, etc. to your search. You might also try searching for electronic and print reference materials by choosing Reference Collection (including Eref) from the pull-down "Limit To:" menu. Some of the reference sources in HSU Library are listed below:

  • Encyclopedia Britannica Online (includes the Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus)
  • CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics. 2nd edition. Boca Raton : Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2003. (Ref QA 5 W45 2003)
  • Mathematical Society of Japan. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mathematics. 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. (Ref QA 5 I8313 1987) - 4 volume set
Biographical Information
  • American Men and Women of Science: Physical and Biological Sciences. 22nd edition. NY: Bowker, 2005. (Ref CT 213 A4) - Earlier editions (1944-65) are in book collection (second floor, south) (CT 213 A4). The 21st edition (2003) is available online.
  • Biographical Dictionary of American Science: the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979. (Ref Q 141 E37) Scope: birthdates 1606-1867.
  • Biographical Encyclopedia of Mathematicians.  New York : Marshall Cavendish, c1999.  (Ref QA 28 B544 1999) - 2 volume work
  • Cook, Mariana Ruth. Mathematicians: an outer view of the inner world. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009. (QA 28 C559 2009) - This book contains photographs of 92 current mathematicians along with brief autobiographical accounts of what drives them to pursue mathematics. Includes famous mathematcians such as John Nash (subject of the film A Beautiful Mind) and Benoit Mandelbrot (fractals in geometry and nature).
  • Dictionary of Scientific Biography. NY: Scribner, 1970-. (Ref Q 141 D5) - 18 volume set.
  • McElroy, Tucker. A to Z of Mathematicians. New York : Facts On File, c2005. (QA 28 M395 2005)
  • National Academy of Sciences. Biographical Memoirs. Washington: National Academy of Sciences. (Q 141 N2) Series of volumes containing brief biographies of deceased members of the National Academy of Sciences and bibliographies of their published scientific contributions. (HSU Library has vol. 26-82 in print format.) - Latest volume has cumulative index for entire series. All 1500+ memoirs are also available online through the publisher's site. They may also be found by searching the HSU Library Catalog for the title Biographical Memoirs and selecting Electronic Books from the pull-down "Limit To:" menu..
  • Poggendorff, J.C. J. C. Poggendorffs biographisch-literarisches Handwörterbuch für Mathematik, Astronomie, Physik mit Geophysik, Chemie, Kristallographie und verwandte Wissensgebiete ... Leipzig: J.A. Barth, 1863-. (Ref Q 141 P64) Authoritative German language handbook series. Full biographical information and published works of mathematicians and other physical science scientists of all countries. Article titles are cited in the language in which they were published.
  • Young, Robyn V.  Notable Mathematicians : From Ancient Times to the Present.  Detroit: Gale, 1998. (Ref QA 28 N66 1998)
History of Science and Mathematics
  • Grattan-Guinness, I., ed. Companion Encyclopedia of the History and Philosophy of the Mathematical Sciences. London: Routledge, 1994. (Ref QA 21 C645 1994) - 2 volume set
  • ISIS Cumulative Bibliography: A Bibliography of the History of Science. London: Mansell, 1971-  Coverage: 6 volume set covers 1913-65 (Ref Q 125 I85); 2 volume set covers 1966-75 (Ref Q 125 I852); 2 volume set covers 1976-85 (Ref Q 125 I853 1989); 4 volume set covers 1986-95 (Ref Q 125 I853 1997)
  • Parkinson, Claire L. Breakthroughs : A Chronology of Great Achievements in Science and Mathematics, 1200-1930.  Boston, MA : G.K. Hall, 1985.  (Ref Q 125 P327 1985)
Women in Science and Mathematics
  • Grinstein, Louise and Campbell, Paul J., eds. Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987. (Ref QA 28 W66 1987)
  • McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch. Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries. 2nd edition. Seacaucus NJ: Carol Pub. Group, 1998. (Ref Q 141 M358 1998) - also available as an electronic book
  • Morrow, Charlene and Perl, Teri, eds. Notable Women in Mathematics : A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998. (Ref QA 28 N68 1998)
  • Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey.  The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science : Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century.  New York : Routledge, 2000.  (Ref Q 141 B5285 2000) - 2 volumes
  • Siegel, Patricia Joan and Finley, Kay Thomas. Women in the Scientific Search: An American Bio-bibliography, 1724-1979. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1985. (Ref Q 141 S54) Has a chapter on mathematicians.
  • Yount, Lisa.  A to Z of Women in Science and Math.  New York, NY : Facts on File, c1999.  (Ref Q 141 Y675 1999)
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Catalyst: the Library's Online CatalogHow do I find out if the Library has books on my topic?

HSU Library Catalog is the guide to books, periodicals and media in the HSU Library. United States government documents prior to 1998 and California state documents prior to 1999 are not listed in HSU Library Catalog. For information on how to search the HSU Library Catalog, see WebVoyage Help Contents. The default screen is for the Basic Search. You may conduct more complex searches using the Advanced Search option - simply click on the Advanced tab.

Selected books in the history of mathematics are listed below. This list does not attempt to include many books on the history of specific topics within mathematics, for example, numerical analysis or differential equations. Use the HSU Library Catalog to find books on specific topics of interest.

General Histories
  • Anglin, W.S. Mathematics: A Concise History and Philosophy.  NY:  Springer-Verlag, 1994. (QA 21 A54 1994)
  • Ball, Walter W.R. A Short Account of the History of Mathematics. NY: Dover, 1960. (QA 21 B18 1960) Reprint of 1908 edition.
  • Bell, Eric T. The Development of Mathematics. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1940. (QA 21 B4)
  • Boyer, Carl B. History of Mathematics. Second edition. NY: Wiley, 1989. (QA 21 B767 1989)
  • Burton, David M.  The History of Mathematics : An Introduction.  Sixth edition. Boston : New York : McGraw-Hill, c2007.  (QA 21 B96 2007)
  • Cajori, Florian A. A History of Mathematical Notations.  La Salle, IL: The Open Court Pub. Co., 1928-29. (QA 21 C135) - 2 volumes
  • Cajori, Florian A. History of Mathematics. Fifth edition. Providence, R.I. : AMS Chelsea, 1991. (QA 21 C15 1991)
  • Calinger, Ronald, ed. Classics of Mathematics. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995. (QA 21 C55 1995) An anthology of selected writings of leading mathematicians from classical antiquity through the early twentieth century.
  • Campbell-Kelly, Martin, ed. The History of Mathematical Tables : From Sumer to Spreadsheets. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003. (QA 47 H57 2003)
  • Cooke, Roger.  The History of Mathematics : A Brief Course.  Second edition. New York : Wiley, c2005.  (QA 21 C649 2005)
  • Dunham, William. The Mathematical Universe: An Alphabetical Journey through the Great Proofs, Problems, and Personalities. NY: Wiley & Sons, 1994. (QA 21 D785 1994)
  • Eagle, M. Ruth.  Exploring Mathematics through History.  New York : Cambridge University Press, 1995.  (QA 21 E24 1995)
  • Eves, Howard. An Introduction to the History of Mathematics. Sixth edition. Philadelphia: Saunders College Pub., c1990. (QA 21 E8 1990)
  • From Kant to Hilbert : A Source Book in the Foundations of Mathematics.  Compiled by William Ewald.  New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.  (QA 8.6 F77 1999) - 2 volume set. (Volume I and Volume II are also available as electronic books)
  • Grattan-Guinness, Ivor. The Norton History of the Mathematical Sciences : The Rainbow of Mathematics.  New York : W.W. Norton, 1998.  (QA 21 G695 1998)
  • Hawking, S.W. (Stephen W.) God Created the Integers : the Mathematical Breakthroughs that Changed History. Philadelphia, PA. : Running Press, c2005. (QA 21 G63 2005)
  • Hodgkin, Luke Howard. A History of Mathematics : from Mesopotamia to Modernity. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2005. (QA21 .H68 2005eb - electronic book)
  • Joseph, George G. The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European Roots of Mathematics. Third edition. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2011. (QA 21 J684 2011)
  • Kenschaft, Patricia C. Change is Possible : Stories of Women and Minorities in Mathematics. Providence, R.I. : American Mathematical Society, c2005. (QA 10.5 K46 2005)
  • Knoebel, Arthur. Mathematical Masterpieces : Further Chronicles by the Explorers. New York : Springer, c2007 (QA 21 M358 2007)
  • Krantz, Steven G. An Episodic History of Mathematics : Mathematical Culture through Problem Solving. [Washington, DC] : Mathematical Association of America, c2010. (QA 21 K73 2010)
  • Lanczos, Cornelius. Space Through the Ages: The Evolution of Geometrical Ideas from Pythagoras to Hilbert and Einstein. London: Academic Press, 1970. (QA 21 L28)
  • Mankiewicz, Richard. The Story of Mathematics. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2000. (QA 21 M35 2000)
  • McLeish, John. Number. NY: Fawcett Columbine, 1992. (QA 21 M38 1992)
  • Mikami, Yoshio. The Development of Mathematics in China and Japan. New York: Chelsea, 1961. (QA 27 C5 M5 1961) - Reprint of the 1913 edition.
  • Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics. Edited by Eleanor Robson and Jacqueline Stedall. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009 (QA 21 O94 2009)
  • Simmons, George F. Calculus Gems : Brief Lives and Memorable Mathematics. Washington, DC : Mathematical Association of America, c2007 (QA 21 S56 2007) - An interesting book that has two parts. The first part is "a biographical history of mathematics from the earliest times to the late nineteenth century."
  • Stillwell, John. Mathematics and Its History. Second edition. NY: Springer, 2002. (QA 21 S84 2002)
  • Swetz, Frank, ed.  From Five Fingers to Infinity : A Journey through the History of Mathematics.  Chicago : Open Court, c1994.  (QA 21 F76 1994)
  • Wardhaugh, Benjamin. How to Read Historical Mathematics. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2010. (QA 21 W324 2010) - This book introduces readers to the analytical questions historians ask when deciphering historical texts.
  • Wilson, Alistair Macintosh.  The Infinite in the Finite.  New York : Oxford University Press, 1995.  (QA 21 W385 1995)
  • Young, L.C. Mathematicians and Their Times: History of Mathematics and Mathematics of History. NY: Elsevier North-Holland, 1981. (QA 21 Y68)
Special Periods
  • Dilke, Oswald A.W. Mathematics and Measurement. Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press ; London : British Museum, c1987. (QA 22 D55 1987)
  • Duren, Peter, ed. A Century of Mathematics in America. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, c1988-c1989. (QA 27 U5 C46 1988) - 3 volume set - covers the 20th century.
  • Eves, Howard. Great Moments in Mathematics (after 1650). Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America, 1981. (QA 21 E796 1981)
  • Eves, Howard. Great Moments in Mathematics (before 1650). Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America, 1980. (QA 21 E797)
  • Fowler, D. H. The Mathematics of Plato's Academy : a New Reconstruction. Second edition. Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1999. (QA22 F69 1999)
  • Grattan-Guinness, I., ed. From the Calculus to Set Theory, 1630-1910: an Introductory History. London: Duckworth, 1980. (QA 21 F77)
  • Gray, Jeremy. Plato's Ghost : the Modernist Transformation of Mathematics. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2008. (QA 26 G73 2008) -also available as an electronic book.
  • Gray, Jeremy. Worlds Out of Nothing : a Course in the History of Geometry in the 19th Century. New York ; London : Springer, 2007. (QA 443.5 G73 2007)
  • Hay, Cynthia, ed. Mathematics from Manuscript to Print, 1300-1600. Oxford : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1988. (QA 23 M28 1988)
  • Heath, Thomas Little. A History of Greek Mathematics. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1965. (QA 22 H4) - 2 volume set (v.1 covers Thales to Euclid, v.2 covers Ariistarchus to Diophantus)
  • Hofmann, Joseph E. Classical Mathematics: a concise history of the classical era in mathematics. New York : Philosophical Library, [1960, c1959]. (QA 24 H643)
  • Lam, Lay Yong and Ang, Tian Se. Fleeting Footsteps: Tracing the Conception of Arithmetic and Algebra in Ancient China. Revised edition. Singapore ; River Edge, NJ : World Scientific, c2004. (QA 27 C5 L35 2004) -also available as an electronic book.
  • Kolmogorov, A.N., ed. Mathematics of the 19th Century: Mathematical Logic, Algebra, Number Theory, Probability Theory. Basel ; Boston : Birkhäuser Verlag, 1992. (QA 26 M27813 1992)
  • Neugebauer, Otto. The Exact Sciences in Antiquity. Second edition. Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1957. (QA 22 N36 1957)
  • Struik, Dirk J. A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200-1800. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1969. (QA 21 S88)
  • Swetz, Frank J. Capitalism and Arithmetic: The New Math of the 15th Century. La Salle IL: Open Court, 1987. (QA 23 S94 1987) Includes the first English translation of the Treviso Arithmetic of 1478, the earliest printed work on arithmetic.
  • Van Brummelen, Glen. The Mathematics of the Heavens and the Earth : the Early History of Trigonometry. Princeton ; Oxford : Princeton University Press, c2009. (QA 24 V36 2009)
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How do I find articles in periodicals on my topic?

Indexes and AbstractsDatabases

Linked below are lists of the databases most appropriate for research in the history of mathematics. In addition to periodical articles, databases may also index articles/reports published in conference proceedings, government documents, technical reports, dissertations, and other sources. Databases vary in scope, depth and breadth of subject coverage. The Research Roadmap: Searching online tutorial and the Search Strategy Worksheet give a step-by-step description of how to develop a search strategy for finding articles using databases.  There are also search strategy guides tailored to science: Identifying Concepts and Generating Search Terms and AND, OR, NOT (Boolean Operators).

Unless otherwise noted, databases are available only to HSU faculty, students and staff.  If you are trying to connect from off-campus, you will need to "authenticate" yourself in order to connect to the databases. You will need to input your campus email login ID and password.   See Off Campus Access to Databases for more information on how to do this.

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Another way to do research -- Citation Searching!!!Another way to do research -- Citation Searching!!!

If you know of a particularly relevant or "classic" article on your topic, you may use Citation Searching to locate more recent articles which cite that relevant or classic article. Google Scholar is useful when searching citations. The Advanced Scholar Search option is the best way to search for articles which cite a known article. Search help may be found at Searching Google Scholar and Advanced Scholar Search Tips. Please see our captioned video tutorial, Advanced Research Skills: Citation Searching, More ways to search citations may be found in the Citation Searching section of Searching the Scientific Literature.

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How do I find out if the Library has the item I need?How do I find out if the Library has the item I need?

Once you have a list of citations or references on the topic you are researching, you must determine if HSU Library has the article, book, report or document cited. While you are searching a database, click on the icon (or other availability link) next to each citation and a link to full text availability of that item will appear.

If there is no  icon, see if there is another link to full text.  If not, check the HSU Library Catalog if the reference is to a book, report, dissertation, or other non-serial publication. If the reference is to an article in a journal or other serially published title, the best way to determine if it is available is to use the Journal & Newspaper Finder (or Journals Tab), a searchable guide to the more than 15,000 journals, magazines, newspapers and other serials accessible online (fulltext) as well as to the periodicals  & serials in HSU Library. The Journal & Newspaper Finder has been enhanced with common periodical abbreviations. Using the contains (or keyword ) search option you can search an abbreviation, e.g.,am math mon, and retrieve American Mathematical Monthly.

If you have a full reference to an article that includes at least the year, volume, issue and starting pages of your article, you may use the Citation Linker to locate it if the Journal & Newspaper Finder indicates that the full text of the journal is available in electronic format for the date(s) of interest.

Indexes and abstracts often use abbreviations in their citations which you *may* need to decipher. Many indexes and abstracts publish separate lists of the abbreviations used. The list for the MathSciNet database is available at Search the Journals Database (MathSciNet). You may also use All That JAS: Journal Abbreviation Sources and other resources listed on Journal Title Abbreviations to locate abbreviations and their full titles.  Do not guess at what abbreviations mean!

Remember that most government documents are not listed in HSU Library Catalog. If you wish to find a government document, consult the guides: How to Find Federal Documents in the HSU Library and How to Find California Documents in the HSU Library.  You may also ask a reference librarian for assistance at the Reference Desk on the first floor (hours) or in the Humboldt Room, room 308 (hours).

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What if the Library doesn't have the item I need?What if the Library doesn't have the item I need?

If the Library does not have the book, report, document, article, etc. which you need, you may request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). See Interlibrary Loan Policies & Guidelines and/or watch our captioned video Using Interlibrary Loan for more information.  Requests may be placed by logging on to the Interlibrary Loan System. There are also links to the ILL System from Image of SFX button pages when the HSU Library doesn't have full text. This process can take as long as TWO WEEKS for books and ONE WEEK for articles so it is a good idea to begin your research early.

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What about resources available on the Internet or World Wide Web?What about resources available on the Internet or World Wide Web?

There are many resources on the history of mathematics available on the Internet and World Wide Web. History of Mathematics Resources on the Web highlights the most important sites.

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A final caveat:Critically Evaluate the Information FoundA final caveat:

You must critically evaluate the resources found online (as well as in the Library) by asking yourself the following questions:

More detailed information on how to evaluate resources may be found in the following:

Be especially careful when surfing the Web!! The following references are especially helpful and tell you what to look for (and look out for):

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