History of the Northeast Section
On October 14, 1955, Professor Howard Eves of the University of Maine sent a letter to the mathematicians of the New England Region asking them to meet at the Universityof New Hampshire in Durham, on November 26, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, for the purpose of organizing into a Section of the Mathematical Association of America. He pointed out that all of the United States and Canada with the exception of the six New England States and the four Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, were already organized into Sections of the Association. Eves noted that although as a Region, we could vote for a Governor (G. B. Thomas of MIT was then the Governor of the Region) as a Section we would be able to meet annually to discuss common mathematical problems, to improve the teaching of mathematics in our region and to listen to both mathematical and pedagogical papers.
Eves had arranged to have Rev. S. J. Bezuszka (Boston College), Ralph Beatley (Harvard), R. P. Johnson (Smith), R. A. Rosenbaum (Wesleyan), Dirk Struik (MIT) and R. P. Clippinger (Raytheon) present papers at the meeting. Dormitory rooms were available at a rate of $1.50 per person per night. There were 80 people in attendance at the initial meeting including 24 nonmembers of the Association. Howard Eves presided at the morning session and Donald Kearns presided at the afternoon session. The business meetingwas held shortly after lunch, with A. A. Bennett (Brown) acting as temporary chairman. A petition requesting the Mathematical Association of America to permit members of the New England Region to organize a New England Section of the Association was circulated. The petition was signed by 48 members and 8 nonmembers of the Association. However, it was felt, that since the new section would include four Canadian Provinces, the Northeastern Section would be a more appropriate name. Elected for one-year terms were Howard Eves as Chairman and Rev. S. J. Bezuszka as Vice-Chairman. R. E. Johnson was elected Secretary-Treasurer. The Northeastern Section became the 26th Section to be admitted to the Association, eight and half years after the Pacific Northwest Section, and a year before the New Jersey Section.
The Executive Committee originally consisted of the three officers of the Section. The Chairman, together with an appointed Committee on Arrangements, was responsible for the program of each meeting, the Vice-Chairman was responsible for maintaining official relations with other mathematical and scientific societies, and the Secretary-Treasurer was responsible for keeping the books, accounts, and records of the Section, and also preparing a report of the meetings for publication in the Monthly. The Secretary-Treasurer was the only officer of the Section eligible for reelection. One of the original by-laws of the Section called for the annual payment to the Secretary-Treasurer by each member of the Section the sum of $0.25. At the second meeting of the Section, that section of the by-laws was removed by a vote of the members. At the fall 1958 meeting, the membership voted to sponsor the National High School Mathematics Contest, and Rev. S. J. Bezuszka was appointed chairman of the Section Contest Committee.
There were four other meetings of the Northeastern Section in the 1950's and they were held at the University of Connecticut, Dartmouth, Holy Cross and Boston College, respectively.
At these four meetings Rev. S. J. Bezuszka, E. E. Richmond (Williams), N. H. McCoy (Smith), and J. G. Kemeny (Dartmouth) were elected Chairmen, respectively, each having served first as Vice-Chairman. During this period three members served as Secretary-Treasurer : A. F. O'Neill (Wheaton), M. C. Brien (Holy Cross), and R. S. Peiters (Phillips Academy). F. M. Stewart (Brown) replaced G. B. Thomas as Governor of the Section in 1958.
There were many outstanding speakers during the 50's : Garrett Birkhoff, Richard Brauer, D. V. Widder, and Howard Raiffa of Harvard, J. G. Kemeny, D. H. Crowell and F. W. Perkings of Darmouth, D. E. Christie and Reinhard Korgen of Bowdoin, A. W. Tucker (Princeton), Hans Rademacher (Pennsylvania), Max Beberman (Illinois), Oystein Ore (Yale), Walter Prenowitz (Brooklyn), Hartley Rogers (MIT), H. J. Zassenhaus (McGill), C. B. Newsom (NYU), D. E. Richmond (Williams), I. N. Rose (Massachusetts) and F. M. Stewart (Brown). Among those speakers several went on to hold national office. A. W. Tucker was to become President of the Association (1961-1962), Garrett Birkhoff, 1st Vice-President (1970-1971), and R. A. Rosenbaum, 2nd Vice-President (1961-1962) and Editor of the Monthly (1967-1971).
Thirty-five years after that initial meeting in Durham members of the Northeastern Section still meet to discuss common problems, to improve their teaching, and to listen to mathematical and pedagogical lectures. We have all benefitted from the wisdom and dedication of our founders, and owe a great deal to all of them, especially to Professor Howard Eves of the University of Maine.
James J. Tattersall