William Edward Story

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William Edward Story
Born(1850-04-29)April 29, 1850
DiedApril 10, 1930(1930-04-10) (aged 79)
Alma materHarvard University
University of Leipzig
Scientific career
InstitutionsJohns Hopkins University
Clark University
ThesisOn the Algebraic Relations Existing Between the Polars of a Binary Quantic[1] (1875)
Doctoral advisorCarl Neumann
Wilhelm Scheibner [de]
Doctoral studentsSolomon Lefschetz

William Edward Story (April 29, 1850 – April 10, 1930) was an American mathematician who taught at Johns Hopkins University and Clark University.

William was born in Boston to Isaac Marion Story (1818-1901) and Elizabeth Bowen Woodberry (1817-1888). He attended high school in Somerville, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard University in the fall of 1867. He graduated with honors in mathematics and began graduate study in Germany in September 1871.[2] In Berlin he attended lectures of Weierstrass, Ernst Kummer, Helmholtz and Dove. In Leipzig he heard Karl Neumann, Bruhns, Mayer, Van der Müll, and Engelmann. He earned a Ph.D. in Leipzig in 1875 with a dissertation "On the algebraic relations existing between the polars of a binary quantic."

W.E. Story began his teaching career at Harvard as a tutor. With the establishment of Johns Hopkins University in 1876, Story was recruited by Daniel Coit Gilman as an Associate. J. J. Sylvester led the program in mathematics. Until 1879, Story was the only other instructor in mathematics besides Sylvester.[3] Story was instrumental in starting two publication projects: The Johns Hopkins University Circulars was a student paper detailing classes and attendees. American Journal of Mathematics was also started as a joint effort of Sylvester and Story, but soon Story was replaced by Thomas Craig as managing editor. In 1893 Story became an associate professor; he taught courses on quaternions, elliptic functions, invariant theory, mathematical astronomy and mathematical elasticity. Story also introduced introductory courses for graduate students, surveying the entire field. The monthly Mathematical Seminary became a weekly mathematical society, divided into three parts; Story oversaw the section on geometry and quaternions.[4]

When Clark University was established in 1889, President G. Stanley Hall hired Oskar Bolza and Story to lead the mathematics department.[5] Henry Taber was hired as docent, he had studied with Story at Johns Hopkins.[6] Solomon Lefschetz and other mathematicians contributed to making Clark the leading site for mathematics in the USA until 1892 when University of Chicago eclipsed it.[7]

Clark University ceased its graduate program in 1919 and Story retired in 1921.


  1. ^ William Edward Story at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Who Was Who in America, Volume I, 1897-1942, p. 1195.
  3. ^ Hugh Hawkins (1960) Pioneer: A History of the Johns Hopkins University, 1874-1889, page 135.
  4. ^ Hawkins, pp. 137-138.
  5. ^ W. E. Story (1899) Clark University 1889–1899, a decennial celebration from Internet Archive
  6. ^ Hawkins, p. 138,
  7. ^ Cooke, Roger and Rickey, V. Frederick (1989) "W.E. Story of Hopkins and Clark" in A Century of Mathematics in America, Part III, Peter Duren and others, editors, American Mathematical Society pages 29–76, ISBN 0-8218-0130-9

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