Papers of Alice Turner Schafer, 1944-2012 (inclusive), 1980-1997 (bulk)
- Majority of material found within 1980-1997
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
3.13 linear feet ((7 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio+ folder, 1 oversize folder, 4 photograph folders, 1 object)
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1944-2010, n.d. (#1.1-1.18, PD.1), includes Schafer's passport, curriculum vitae, obituaries, articles by and about her, e-mails, family letters, awards, oral history transcripts, and personal financial records. Of note are the oral history transcripts in which Schafer tells her life story in detail. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1962-2012 (#1.19-4.18, 8.9, PD.2-PD.4), includes correspondence, recommendations, photographs, student grade books, speeches and talks given by Schafer. She chaired the American Mathematical Society's Committee on Human Rights of Mathematics, and served on several other committees for that organization. She was on the Mathematical Association of America's visiting lecturer series, and served as chair of its development committee. The majority of Schafer's talks were about mathematical education and women in mathematics. Of note are the materials from her several trips to China, many contain letters to Schafer from Chinese colleagues. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, ASSOCIATION FOR WOMEN IN MATHEMATICS, 1980-2005 (#4.19-8.8), includes correspondence, reports, meeting minutes and agendas, conference materials, mathematics problems, speeches, financial records, grants, and awards. Schafer served as third chair of what became the Joint Committee on Women in the Mathematical Sciences (JCW), and edited the membership directory in 1981. She also served on the first selection committee of the AWM Alice T. Schafer Prize, the Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day Committee, and the AWM's speaker's bureau. Schafer was instrumental in securing space on the Wellesley College campus for AWM's office in the 1970s and for ensuring that AWM's archives would be held at Wellesley when the AWM office moved to the University of Maryland in 1993. The Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day was started in 1986 at Radcliffe College and Simmons College and were aiming to introduce women high school students and high school teachers to applications of mathematics and to encourage both students and teachers to think of mathematics as an appropriate field for women to enter. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, OVERSIZED AND MEMORABILIA, 1987-1996, n.d. (#FD.1, F+D.1, OD.1, Mem.1), includes the oversized material and memorabilia removed from throughout the collection.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Known for her efforts to encourage girls and women to learn mathematics, Alice Schafer was part of the women's caucus at a joint meeting of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America that formed the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) in January 1971. Mary W. Gray was elected as the first president; Schafer served as president from 1973 to 1975. At first, AWM operated like a grassroots movement, holding small meetings all over the country. Official bi-annual meetings were held in conjunction with the joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of America. AWM encouraged mathematical organizations to consider both female and male mathematicians for candidates for offices and membership on committees, to invite more women to give talks, to organize sections on special topics such as "Women Mathematicians in Business, Industry, and Government'' at their meetings, and to increase the number of women editors on mathematical journals. For more information, see the Association for Women in Mathematics web site, http://sites.google.com/site/awmmath/.
In 1980 Schafer was named Helen Day Gould Professor of Mathematics at Wellesley College. She retired as mathematics professor that same year (she was 65), but stayed at Wellesley as chair of the Affirmative Action Program for two years. In 1982 she began teaching at Simmons College and was involved with the Radcliffe College Seminars. Schafer was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1985, and the Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize was established in her honor by the Association for Women in Mathematics in 1989. The prize was established in recognition of her service to the Association for Women in Mathematics, and her dedication to encouraging young women to study and enter careers in the mathematical sciences. Alice and Richard moved to Arlington, Virginia, when Richard retired from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988, and Alice taught at Marymount University from 1988 to 1996.
Schafer traveled six times to the People's Republic of China, bringing her love of mathematics, and the conviction that women could excel in the field. In 1980 she and Richard went with a private tour group. In 1987, 1989, and 1990 she traveled with the United Nations People to People Citizen Ambassador Program leading groups of undergraduate mathematics educators (1987) and a women in mathematics delegation (1989-1990). She led the United States/China Joint Conference on Education Delegation of Women Mathematicians to China in 1992, and the United States/China Joint Conference on Women in Science Delegation to Beijing, China in 1995. The women in science delegation met with representatives of the All-China Women's Federation, and the Chinese Women's Association of Science and Technology (CWAST) to examine the social status of women and their roles in society and the workplace. Alice retired for the last time in 1996. In 1998 she was awarded the Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Ha Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics by the Mathematics Association of America. That same year, Alice and Richard moved to Lexington, Massachusetts. Alice died on September 27, 2009, at the age of 94.
- Series I. Biographical and personal, 1944-2010, n.d. (#1.1-1.18, PD.1)
- Series II. Professional, 1962-2012 (#1.19-4.18, 8.9, PD.2-PD.4)
- Series III. Association for Women in Mathematics, 1980-2005 (#4.19-8.8)
- Series IV. Oversized and memorabilia, 1987-1996, n.d. (#FD.1, F+D.1, OD.1, Mem.1)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Alice Turner Schafer were given to the Schlesinger Library by Richard Schafer in 2008 and 2010 and Erica Dakin Voolich in 2012.
Accession number: 2008-M46
Processed by: Cat Lea Holbrook
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Books and Printed Materials Division:
- "Kovalevskaia Fund Newsletter," 1986-1997
- "Forum '95, the Independent Daily of the NGO Forum of Women"
- "Women and Mathematics Education Newsletter," 1994
By: Cat Lea Holbrook, with assistance from Camille Torres.
Updated June 2013
By: Cat Lea Holbrook
- China--Foreign relations--United States
- College teachers--United States
- Math anxiety--United States
- Mathematicians--United States
- Mathematics--Study and teaching
- Sex differences in education--United States
- United States--Foreign relations--China
- Women college teachers--United States
- Women in mathematics--United States
- Women mathematicians--United States
- Women's rights--Government policy--China
- Schafer, Alice Turner, 1915-2009. Papers of Alice Turner Schafer, 1944-2012 (inclusive), 1980-1997 (bulk): A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Steiner Book and Manuscript Fund and the Zetlin Sisters Fund.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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