Winifred Asprey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Winifred Asprey
Winifred Asprey.jpg
Born (1917-04-08)April 8, 1917
Sioux City, Iowa
Died October 19, 2007(2007-10-19) (aged 90)
Poughkeepsie (town), New York
Fields Mathematics, computer science
Alma mater Vassar College
University of Iowa

Winifred "Tim" Alice Asprey (April 8, 1917 – October 19, 2007) was an American mathematician and computer scientist. She was one of only around 200 women to earn PhDs in mathematics from American universities during the 1940s, a period of women's underrepresentation in mathematics at this level.[1] She was involved in developing the close contact between Vassar College and IBM that led to the establishment of the first computer science lab at Vassar.[1]


Asprey was born in Sioux City, Iowa; her parents were Gladys Brown Asprey, Vassar class of 1905, and Peter Asprey Jr.[2] She had two brothers, actinide and fluorine chemist Larned B. Asprey (1919–2005), a signer of the Szilárd petition, and military historian and writer Robert B. Asprey (1923–2009) who dedicated several of his books to his sister Winifred.[3][4]

Education and work[edit]

While a student at Vassar College, Asprey met Grace Hopper who later introduced her to computing while working on the UNIVAC project in Philadelphia. Asprey graduated from Vassar college in 1938. [5]

Asprey earned MS and PhD degrees from the University of Iowa in 1942 and 1945, respectively. She taught mathematics and computer science at Vassar for 38 years, chairing the mathematics department by 1957,[6] until her retirement in 1982. In 1963, she started the computer science curriculum at Vassar and in 1967 helped Vassar become the second college in the nation to acquire an IBM System/360 computer.


  1. ^ a b Margaret Anne Marie Murray (2001). Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity in Post-World War II America. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-63246-2. 
  2. ^ "Winifred "Tim" Asprey, computer pioneer and longtime professor at Vassar College, dies at 90". Vassar Office of College Relations. 
  3. ^ "Dr. Larned "Larry" Brown Asprey". Obituaries. Albuquerque Journal. March 11, 2005. 
  4. ^ "New College Receives Gift from Estate of Robert B. Asprey". New College of Florida. June 15, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Winifred Asprey: Into the Future". Vassar Office of College Relations. 
  6. ^ "Scientists in the News". Science (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 125 (3257): 1080. 1957. doi:10.1126/science.125.3257.1077. JSTOR 1752434. 

External links[edit]