CyPix: Mathematics and Community

Since Pi Day (you know, 3.1415926…) was on Friday, I figured I would dedicate this week’s photo to something mathematics-related, possibly from one of our collections regarding the Department of Mathematics or its current and long-time home, Carver Hall. However, in doing research, I stumbled upon the papers of Edward and Minne Allen (RS 13/14/51) and could not resist sharing a little slice of their lives.

RS 13/14/51, Allens

The Allens with unidentified people, on the steps of Steiner Hall, Grinnell College, circa 1960-1962.

Edward Allen was a native of Kansas City, Missouri, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Harvard University. From 1921 to 1985 – more than 60 years – Allen was a Professor of Mathematics at Iowa State. Minne Allen, a native of Sondershausen, Germany, also taught here in the subjects of economics and sociology until the early 1930s, when Iowa State passed a law forbidding family members to be employed simultaneously. Together, the couple were active members of a small Religious Society of Friends (also referred to as Quaker) group here in Ames. The pair was also very involved in the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which they helped found in 1935; Edward also served as president for three terms. Edward wrote about his work in peace and civil liberties, vocations shared with Minne, in his 1977 book Freedom in Iowa. Minne passed away in 1980, and Edward in 1985.

So, if you missed Pi Day, cut yourself a slice of pie and toast to the communities in Ames and in Iowa that flourished under the care of mathematician Edward and sociologist Minne. And when you’re done eating, come and check out their papers, RS 13/14/51, in the archives. The records consist of lecture materials, Iowa Civil Liberties Union materials, publications, course materials from Edward’s time at Harvard, and biographical information – including items in German.

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