Web Exhibition: Neugebauer at Göttingen

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Otto Neugebauer (1899-1990), unidentified photographer, not later than 1936. Scan courtesy of the Mathematisches Institut, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. The photograph was published in National Mathematics Magazine 11, 1936, 16.

Doctoral Studies (1922-1926)
Autobiographical statement appended to Neugebauer's typescript 1926 doctoral dissertation, Die Grundlagen der ägyptischen Bruchrechnung. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 1 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik"). This biography was inserted in those copies of the published version (Springer, 1926) that were obligatory to satisfy the requirements for the doctorate.
Neugebauer's lecture notes from David Hilbert's course "Statistische Methoden" (1922). The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 7.
Neugebauer's lecture notes from Emmy Noether's course "Algebraische Funktionen" (1925). The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 7.
Neugebauer's lecture notes from Richard Courant's course "Analytische Geometrie" (1926). The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 7.
Page from Neugebauer's typescript 1926 doctoral dissertation, Die Grundlagen der ägyptischen Bruchrechnung. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 1 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik"). This philological section was omitted from the published version. The notes in the left margin were written by the Egyptologist Kurt Sethe, who acted as one of the readers for the dissertation.

Historical Researches (1926-1934)
Application to the Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen for a travel grant to study with the Sumerologist Anton Deimel in Rome. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 1 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik"). Early in his studies of Babylonian mathematics, Neugebauer highlights his interest in the origins of the Babylonian place-value sexagesimal notation.
Neugebauer's submission for habilitation, 1927. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 1 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik"). The three themes for the examination were "Ancient oriental mathematics and its relation to Greek mathematics," "On history of mathematics, its problems and methodology," and "The Moscow mathematical papyrus (unpublished) and our knowledge of Egyptian mathematics."
Autobiographical statement accompanying Neugebauer's submission for habilitation, 1927. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 1 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik").
Lecture notebook, Vorlesung über Geschichte der vorgriechische Mathematik, 1928. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 1. The beginning of the section on Babylonian geometry; near the bottom of the page Neugebauer observes with astonishment that the Theorem of Pythagoras was known in Mesopotamia in the Old Babylonian period.
Lecture notebook, Ausgewählte Kapitel der Geschichte der antiken Mathematik, 1932-1933. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 1. This course was a wide-ranging survey of Greek, Egyptian, and Babylonian mathematics; in the mid 1930s Neugebauer planned to turn his notes into a book, but this project was not carried out. Pages 45-46 discuss Babylonian geometrical problems from various cuneiform tablets including British Museum BM 85194 ("CT IX ").
Lecture notebook, Ausgewählte Kapitel der Geschichte der antiken Mathematik, 1932-1933. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 1. The more elaborate diagrams were drawn on small separate sheets. This figure, referred to on p. 46 (see above), represents Neugebauer's interpretation of a problem in BM 85194 that has a more schematic diagram on the actual tablet.
Advertising flyer for Mathematische Keilschrift-Texte, 1935. The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 3 ("Zur Geschichte der Mathematik"). The front cover of the flyer shows Neugebauer's hand copy of a Berlin tablet, VAT 7535.


The Mathematical Institute and the Zentralblatt
New York University Archives, Richard Courant papers, Ernest Courant supplement. 
Neugebauer's "Reminiscences on the Göttingen Mathematical Institute on the Occasion of R. Courant's 75th Birthday," 1963 (PDF). The Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., Otto Neugebauer Papers, Box 14, Publications vol. 11. Neugebauer effaces his own role in the life of the Institute.
Blueprint for the Mathematisches Institut building, 1927-1929. Mathematisches Institut, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Photographs by Bill Casselman, with acknowledgements to Bernd Hoffmann for access to the originals. The building was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation; Neugebauer had a large part in the design in collaboration with the architect, Werner Seidel.
The Institut's Lesezimmer (library). Photograph by Bill Casselman. Neugebauer had been in charge of the library since his graduate studies. Casselman observes that the design of the new building embodied very careful and unconventional thought about what a building devoted to mathematics research and instruction should be.
The Mathematisches Institut on Bunsenstrasse. Photograph by John Steele.
Richard Courant, draft of application to the administration of the University of Göttingen for a special subvention for Neugebauer, 1929. New York University Archives, Richard Courant papers, Ernest Courant supplement. Courant's testimonial recognizes Neugebauer's intensive contributions to the building, furnishing, and organization of the new Institute, to the detriment of the teaching that would normally have provided income to a Privatdozent.
Letter from Neugebauer to Courant, March 24, 1931. New York University Archives, Richard Courant papers, Ernest Courant supplement. Neugebauer was the founding editor of Springer's new reviewing journal, Zentralblatt für Mathematik und ihre Grenzgebiete. The letter refers to differences in editorial practice between the Zentralblatt and its established competitor, the Jahrbuch über die Fortschritte der Mathematik, and to interest among American mathematicians in founding a new reviewing journal or collaborating with the Zentralblatt.
Richard Courant, draft of application to have Neugebauer appointed as ausserordentlicher Professor, probably 1932. New York University Archives, Richard Courant papers, Ernest Courant supplement. Courant describes Neugebauer as the centerpoint of the young mathematicians at Göttingen, and argues the desirability of establishing a professorial position for him in the history of mathematics. Neugebauer was appointed to such a position in 1932.
Commemorative plaque, Mathematisches Institut. Photograph by John Steele. The plaque, at present the only one on the building, was dedicated on July 1, 2010.

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