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About Collected Works of Mathematicians

A Bibliography of Collected Works and Correspondence of Mathematicians

Steven W. Rockey

About the Bibliography:

This bibliography was developed over many years of work as the Mathematics Librarian at Cornell University. In the early 1970’s I became interested in enhancing our library’s holdings of collected works and endeavored to comprehensively acquire all the collected works of mathematicians that I could identify.  To do this I built up a file of all the titles we held and another file for desiderata, many of which were out of print.  In 1991 the merged files became a printed bibliography that was distributed for free.

The scope of the bibliography includes the collected works and correspondence of mathematicians that were published as monographs and made available for sale. It does not include binder’s collections, reprint collections or manuscript collections that were put together by individuals, departments or libraries.  In the beginning I tried to include all editions, but the distinction between editions, printings, reprints, translations and now e-books was never easy or clear.  In this latest version I have supplied the OCLC identification number, which is used by libraries around the world, since OCLC does a better job connecting the user with the various version than I possibly could.  In some cases I have included a title that has an author’s mathematical works but have not included another title that may have their complete works. Conversely, if I believed that a complete works title contained significant mathematics among other subjects, I have included it.

From antiquity through the nineteenth century only a relatively small number of people made almost all of the important advances in mathematics, and collected works volumes exist for most of them. By the twentieth century more people were producing mathematics and the number of collected works proliferated. Collected works allow the researcher, historian or librarian to have much of the important literature available in a convenient and compact form. Sometimes collected works are the only way to find articles which were originally published in titles that are scarcely held even in the most comprehensive libraries. Collected works are often very useful in deciphering obscure citations. The best collected works may also include unpublished papers, correspondence, commentaries, translations, biographies, bibliographies, etc. that are unavailable anywhere else.

The building of the bibliography progressed in a serpentine and serendipitous fashion. As I perused catalogs, bibliographies, histories and biographies I would add any new titles I discovered. I also made systematic searches of various union catalogs and national bibliographic databases by appropriate subjects, titles and authors. The old RLIN database, which no longer exists, was very useful.  MathSciNet has been most useful in verifying the existence and exact citation for titles not held at Cornell. The article by S. D. Chatterji “On the publication of collected or selected works” (Jahrbuch Uberblicke Mathematik, 1985, pp.183-195), is an excellent reference which explains the value of collected works for mathematics and points out the lack of a comprehensive bibliography.

In 1997 I began to work with Albert Lewis who was preparing a revised and expanded electronic version of J.W. Dauben’s book, “The History of Mathematics from Antiquity to the Present: A Selective Bibliography,” which was published by the American Mathematical Society in 2000 on a disc. He invited me to contribute my bibliography of collected works for “Section II: Source Materials; Collected Papers and Correspondence” in the updated Dauben bibliography. In the course of preparing and updating my bibliography I expanded the scope to include mathematicians’ correspondence to parallel the original scope of Dauben’s section that listed collected works.

The decision whether or not to include a particular author in this bibliography has sometimes been difficult. I tried to make the distinction based on the mathematical contents of the title listed rather than on an arbitrary label of the author’s profession (astronomer, physicist, etc.). MathSciNet and MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive were often consulted to help make the decision.  I have generally taken a broad view of mathematics, including statistics and applied mathematics.  In some cases, titles that appeared by bibliographic description to be collected works upon examination turned out to be biographies, bibliographies, festschrifts, conference proceeding or some other sort of collection. In other cases the bibliographic description gave no clue, and only an in-hand examination revealed the title to be an author’s collected works or correspondence.

This bibliography first appeared on the Cornell University Mathematics Library Web Page in May of 1996. A major upgrade with numerous additions and corrections took place in November 2000. Another version was posted in December 2006.  Difficulty in updating the Web version kept it essentially static until 2017 when a revised and enhanced version was made available.

Over the years a number of individuals have provided a wide range of invaluable suggestions for additions and corrections to this bibliography. Some people have provided single bits of information and others have had more extensive input. The result you see here is more complete and accurate because of their gracious help.

My initial ambition was to improve Cornell’s holdings of collected works in mathematics. At this final stage, Cornell University Library holds 992 of the 1082 titles I was able to identify with imprints through 2017.