Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society

The Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society

The Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society is a student mathematics Society which was founded on 3 December 1893 in the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. The first President of the Society was Zdzislaw Krygowski who was elected by the 20 people who attended this inaugural meeting. Its original name was the Jagiellonian University Mathematics and Physics Student Society.

The first tasks it undertook was the organising of lectures at regular meetings of the Society, and the purchase of books to build up a mathematics and physics library. After operating for three years, there followed three years of inactivity, and then in 1900 Antoni Hoborski became President. He soon had life back into the Society, the regular meetings began again, and now an addition was special problem sessions. The Society was put on a much more formal footing with announcements of meetings being inserted into newspapers. Another rather remarkable task that the Society took on was the production of textbooks from the lecture courses they were attending [1]:-

The lecture courses were very carefully noted down, checked by the professors, calligraphically rewritten, and published (lithographed or printed). The Society began with An Introduction to Mathematical Analysis based on lectures by Stanislaw Zaremba; between 1902 and 1939 the Society published a number of very valuable books, an extraordinary achievement.

After World War I other student mathematics societies were formed in Warsaw, Lwow, Poznan and Wilno. Annual meeings between these five student societies were organised and these meetings provided a outlet for the sale of the fine lecture note textbooks produced by the Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society. My [EFR] father-in-law was a member of the Society when he was a student at the Jagiellonian University in the 1930s. He talked to me of the hard work the students put in, yet of the fun which was built around mathematics through membership of the Society.

The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 followed by the Russian invasion on 17 September put a stop to any possible activities by the Society. Poland was partitioned with parts being given to Ukraine, Belorussia and Lithuania with a major portion controlled by Germany. In June 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union, putting Poland into a very strange position. Two Polish governments in exile formed, one in London and one in Moscow and at the end of the War the allies, pressurised by the Soviet Union, effectively let the Moscow government take control of Poland. They quickly began to impose a Stalinist model of government.

The Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society could not function so easily in this new environment. For one thing there was strict censorship so nothing could be published without official approval. Also the government, although not opposed to a student society, thought that there should be one such society for the whole of Poland. One day in 1950 Society members turned up for one of the regular meetings to discover that the room they used had been sealed. The library of the Society was removed, and the Society officially ceased to exist. However it did continue some unofficial activity.

In 1959 rules were relaxed and the Society could again operate openly. It renewed its activities of meetings, lectures, problem sessions, and joint meetings with other Polish student mathematics societies started up again (but stopped in 1976).


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JOC/EFR August 2004 School of Mathematics and Statistics
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