Gertrude Blanch papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection includes Gertrude Blanch’s lectures given during the 1940s and 1960; published articles and notes for her two unpublished manuscripts, 1935-1994; colleagues’ and others’ writings collected by Blanch, 1895-1969; and photographs of Blanch, alone, with colleagues and friends, and at awards ceremonies, 1930s-1966. The collection also contains a small amount of biographical material, 1932-1967, including awards and citations, records relating to her employment, 1954-1967, and documentation regarding immigration and naturalization, affidavit of birth, and record of name change. Also included is a small amount of personal and professional correspondence, 1957-1994. There are also two interviews on cassette tapes. One, dated 1989, contains an interview with Blanch by her colleague Henry Thacher and centers on her career and professional life. On the other, labeled “late in her life,” Blanch is interviewed by her nephew Michael Stern, and discusses her early years and personal life.
- Blanch, G. (Gertrude), 1897-1996 (Person)
Language of Materials
Access to materials:
Access to the collection is unrestricted.
The Charles Babbage Institute holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
Gertrude Blanch, 1897-1996, mathematician, received the B.S. in mathematics with a physics minor from New York University (1932) and the Ph.D. (1935) in algebraic geometry from Cornell University.
Born Gittel Kaimowitz in Kolno, Poland, Blanch emigrated to New York with her family in 1907. After receiving her Ph.D., she taught at Hunter College from 1935-1936. Her doctoral dissertation, Properties of the Veneroni Transformation in S4, was published in the American Journal of Mathematics in 1936.
From 1938-1942, Blanch served as technical director of the Mathematical Tables Project in New York. The Mathematical Tables Project was funded by the Work Projects Administration. By 1941 it employed 450 human computers. In 1942 the project became part of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), and Blanch became a mathematician for the New York office of the Applied Math panel of the OSRD.
During the war, the Mathematical Tables Project created ballistics calculations for the Army, navigation tables for the Navy, and provided the fundamental calculations for the Manhattan Project. After the war the project was absorbed into the computation laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards. While still in New York, Blanch took an active interest in the newly-announced electronic computing machines, and was involved with the group that would later found the Association for Computing Machinery.
In 1948, Blanch became assistant to the director at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles, another branch of the Applied Mathematics Laboratory. In 1954 she was appointed senior mathematician at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, in which capacity she served until her retirement in 1967. While she was at Dayton, Blanch published half of her 30 papers, and received several citations and awards, including her election as Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Air Force Exceptional Service Award (both in 1963), and the Federal Woman’s Award in 1964.
Upon her retirement from the Air Force, Blanch was awarded a consulting contract by the Air Force through Ohio State University. When this contract was canceled in 1970 she moved back to California and worked on her second book, which was never published.
- Grier, David Alan. “Gertrude Blanch of the Mathematical Tables Project,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, v. 19, no. 4 (1997): 18-27.
9 boxes (4 cubic feet)
The collection consists of lectures and published articles by mathematician Gertrude Blanch, other professional writings collected by Blanch, and some biographical material and personal and professional correspondence.
Arrangement of Collection
The materials in this collection are arranged into the following groups:
- Talks and writings by Gertrude Blanch, 1936-1994
- Writings by others, 1895-1969
- Photographs, 1935-1964
- Correspondence, 1957-1994
- Biographical material, 1932-1989
Within each series, items are arranged by record type and chronology.
The records were given to the Charles Babbage Institute by the family of Gertrude Blanch in 2000.
- Mathematicians -- United States. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mathematics -- Tables. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Numerical analysis. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Rhodes, Ida, 1900-1986
- United States. National Bureau of Standards
- United States. Work Projects Administration
- Gertrude Blanch Papers, 1932-1996. Finding Aid.
- Prepared by Corinne Florin, August 2001.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Collecting Area Details
Contact The Charles Babbage Institute Archives Collecting Area
Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 - 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55455