B F Finkel and The American Mathematical Monthly

Benjamin Franklin Finkel founded 'The American Mathematical Monthly', the first part of which was published in January 1894. Here is a version of the Editorial which appeared in the first part:


The American Mathematical Monthly
VOL. 1. JANUARY, 1894, No. 1.

It has seemed to the Editors that there is not only room but a real need for a mathematical Journal of the character and scope of this Monthly. At the present time there is no Mathematical Journal published in the United States sufficiently elementary to appeal to any but a very limited constituency, and that comes to its readers at regular intervals. Most of our existing Journals deal almost exclusively with subjects beyond the reach of the average student or teacher of Mathematics or at least with subjects with which they are not familiar, and little, if any space, is devoted to the solution of problems. While not neglecting the higher fields of mathematical investigation, 'The American Mathematical Monthly' will also endeavour to reach the average mathematician by devoting regular departments to the important branches of Mathematical Science.

It is recognized that those improvements in the Science are most fruitful, which lead to improvements in the elementary treatises, and yet it must be admitted that little has been accomplished by previous mathematical journals in this line, as the crudities and solecisms handed down from one text-book to another bear witness.

While realizing that the solution of problems is one of the lowest forms of Mathematical research, and that, in general, it has no scientific value, yet its educational value can not be over estimated. It is the ladder by which the mind ascends into the higher fields of original research and investigation. Many dormant minds have been aroused into activity through the mastery of a single problem.

'The American Mathematical Monthly' will, therefore, devote a due portion of its space to the solution of problems, whether they be the easy problems in Arithmetic, or the difficult problems in the Calculus, Mechanics, Probability, or Modern Higher Mathematics. Papers and other interesting features will be presented, including portraits of prominent mathematicians and their biographies, a column of Queries and Information in which readers may have information furnished and their doubts cleared up by the aid of the contributors and editors, a column of Notes, and Book reviews.

No pains will be spared on the part of the Editors to make this the most interesting and most popular journal published in America. In order to do this, we must have the earnest co-operation of our readers. Teachers, students and all lovers of mathematics are, therefore, cordially invited to contribute problems, solutions and papers on interesting and important subjects in mathematics. We will be pleased to note your success, and all information of interest in regard to our contributors will be cheerfully received and noted.

All problems, solutions, and articles intended for publication in the February Number, should be received on or before February 1st, 1894.

Solutions to problems in this Number will appear in March Number, but should be mailed to Editors before February 15th. It will be our aim to have the 'Monthly' reach its subscribers about the middle of each month. If you do not receive your Number about that time, inform us immediately.

B F Finkel, J M Colaw, Editors.

In 1947, following Finkel's death, the 'The American Mathematical Monthly' published a tribute to him by William DeWeese Cairns including the following description of Finkel's association with the Monthly:


The first number of the Monthly appeared in January, 1894, and Professor Finkel continued to bear the sole responsibility for the editorship and the business management of the journal until he was joined by L E Dickson in October, 1902, by H E Slaught in January, 1907, and by G A Miller in January, 1909. The Monthly was formally transferred in January, 1913, to a board of editors representing fourteen colleges and universities. Then, in January 1916, the magazine became the official journal of the Mathematical Association of America. Professor Finkel remained one of the editors of the department of Problems and Solutions through 1933, and was still a member of the board of editors at the time of his death.

During the first fifteen years of the Monthly's existence there were great financial and technical obstacles; a picture of these difficulties was vividly presented by Professor Finkel in an address given at the meeting of the Association in Cleveland, 1 January 1931, and published in the Monthly for June-July of that year. American mathematics is indebted to him for his imagination and his persistent courage in establishing and promoting a journal which has become most important in the field of mathematics. His zeal, intelligently directed as it was along useful lines, has earned for him a unique place in the history of mathematical publications.


JOC/EFR May 2013

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